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Rattling Magic’s Vucevic again in Game 2 will be tall order for Raptors

Rattling Magic’s Vucevic again in Game 2 will be tall order for Raptors
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Nikola Vucevic vows to be better for the Orlando Magic in Game 2 of their playoff series than he was in Game 1. It’d be hard for him to have a lesser impact.

The all-star centre had just 11 points and eight rebounds in Orlando’s 104-101 win, although he did make a huge three-point field goal late in the fourth quarter.

Nikola Vucevic and the Magic have had two days between games to figure out why three of Orlando’s top offensive weapons combined to shoot 8-for-35 in Game 1 against the Raptors.  (Joe Burbank / TNS)

Raptors coach Nick Nurse said he thought Toronto had “rattled” Vucevic with a variety of defensive looks, anchored by veteran Marc Gasol, and it’s hard to disagree with him. But Vucevic, who averaged 20.8 points and 12 rebounds a game in the regular season, doesn’t see himself having a second bad game in a row.

“I went 3-for-14,” he said. “I don’t see that happening again.”

Vucevic, Terrence Ross and Aaron Gordon were a miserable 8-for-35 combined from the field. Orlando only shot 40 per cent in the game, but won despite off nights from three key offensive components.

“The bottom line is, the offensive game that we played (Saturday) night won’t win Game 2,” Orlando coach Steve Clifford said. That’s what I told them this morning. It just won’t.”

Clifford said Monday he expects much the same from Toronto on Tuesday night.

“Their defence was really good,” he said. ”I mean, it’s not like they’re going to go back and change a lot. If you want to talk about what needs to be done to improve if you’re them, I would say you’re going to look at their defensive game and say: That’s a game that’s going to win most nights. So it wasn’t like we took great advantage of anything.”

McCAW CLOSE: The Raptors really only used eight players on Saturday — less than three first-half minutes for Jodie Meeks had as much to do with two quick fouls on Danny Green as anything — but help may be coming. Swingman Patrick McCaw, a defensive pest, is close to returning from a sprained thumb suffered in the final week of the regular season. “He’s still got the tape on there and he practised (Sunday), “ Nurse said. “It’ll be closer. I don’t think he’s quite game ready yet, but should be soon.”

USING THE FORCE: Orlando is one of the top defensive teams in the NBA — No. 1 in the last third of the season, according to some metrics — and held Toronto about 17 points below its season average in Game 1. Not good enough, said Pascal Siakam: ”I think we can score more. We’ve proved we can definitely score more than we did last game. Just playing with more force on offence. The (Magic) defence, the length, working on that. We missed a couple of shots here and there.”

HALL CALL: Two-time Olympians Dianne Norman and Howard Kelsey lead a list of six women and men who will be inducted into the Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame later this year. Canada Basketball announced Monday that Norman (1996, 2000 Olympics) and Kelsey (1994, 1998 Games) will join Montreal Olympian Joanne Sargent, national team standout Mike Smrek, two-time national champion Pat Lawson and long-time official John Weiland as 2019 inductees.
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