D.J. Augustin poured in 25 points on 9-of-13 shooting, including the game-winning triple with 4.2 seconds remaining, to send Toronto Raptors fans home from Game 1 with a familiar feeling: shell-shocked disappointment.
Here are some takeaways from the Orlando Magic's 104-101 victory:
Kawhi Leonard had a great game overall and Marc Gasol stood tall on the defensive end (more on that later), but it's got to sting for Toronto that the two postseason performers the Raptors acquired to help rid themselves of past playoff demons combined for the defensive mistake on Augustin's game-winner.
The disconnect on the dagger is clear, as Leonard thought the Raptors were switching and started trailing Nikola Vucevic after he screened for Augustin. Gasol, meanwhile, seemed to believe Toronto was defending the possession straight up and stayed home on Vucevic. By the time Gasol realized the opportunity he and Leonard had just given Augustin, the Magic point guard had already seized it.
"They were switching the whole game, so when I came off the pick with Vuc and saw Kawhi kind of go under the screen, and I saw Marc tried to step up, but he gave me a little space, so I took what the defense gave me," Augustin said at the postgame podium. "When I saw the opening, I shot the ball with confidence, and it went in."
Given the little time left on the shot clock, Gasol and Leonard should've forced Augustin to get rid of the ball, regardless of their initial plans.
While his 25-point outburst may have been a surprise (Augustin averaged 11.7 points per game this season and owns a career-high scoring average of 14.4), don't get caught sleeping on the 31-year-old's ability to punish the Raptors as a shooter. He's a career 38 percent 3-point gunner who's posted a 46-42-87 shooting line over the last two seasons, good for a true shooting percentage of 61.6 and an effective field goal percentage of 56.2.
The Raptors can attack the undersized guard on the other end, but if they give him clean looks, he's going to make them pay.
Look, Kyle Lowry can impact a game without scoring, but it's one thing to have a tough shooting night, and another to post a doughnut on the offensive end.
Lowry handed out eight assists compared to just two turnovers, grabbed seven rebounds, recorded two steals, took a charge that left his nether regions sore, and was a team-high plus-11 in 34 minutes Saturday, but he needs to produce some semblance of individual offense for the Raptors to get where they want to go this spring. The five-time All-Star missed all seven shots he took, including six mostly uncontested 3-point looks, and bricked his only two free-throw attempts.
"I did well on the floor general side but I've gotta make some shots," Lowry conceded in Toronto's locker room after another Game 1 loss, before admitting that he might need to be more aggressive in Game 2.
Leonard seemed more explosive in his return to playoff action than he did throughout an 82-game tuneup for the real season, and he looked every bit the player David Fizdale once famously proclaimed "bleeds antifreeze" this time of year.
The Raptors' prized offseason acquisition scored 25 points on 10-of-18 shooting and nearly single-handedly stole the game for Toronto with a pair of clutch buckets in crunch time, but if you felt he still left something to be desired, it's probably because he only played 33 minutes Saturday. Three Raptors players logged more Game 1 time than Leonard, which simply can't happen at a time of year when star talent is supposed to reign supreme.
Head coach Nick Nurse said after the game Leonard's minutes had nothing to do with any kind of limitation, which Kawhi himself echoed.
"We could've (still) won the game with the minutes I played," Leonard said in his postgame media scrum. "But obviously, I'm ready to play more minutes if need be."
Oh, need be, Kawhi. Need definitely be.
Nurse and Co. managed Leonard's workload throughout the season so that he'd enter the playoffs healthy and with plenty left in the tank. Saturday would've been a great time to take advantage of that.
There were no such playing time concerns for Pascal Siakam. Though Jonathan Isaac and the rest of Orlando's frontcourt made him work for it (0.96 points per individual possession), the Most Improved Player candidate still finished with 24 points, nine rebounds, four assists, two blocks, and a steal in a game-high 42 minutes while attacking and putting pressure on the Magic defense throughout.
Gasol finished with a modest stat line of 13 points, six rebounds, and four assists on 5-of-9 shooting and was involved in the aforementioned defensive miscue that everyone will remember from this game, but he was otherwise an absolute stud on the defensive end.
The Spaniard was an immovable object in the post guarding Vucevic, who finished with 11 points on 3-of-14 shooting, and was in the right defensive spot almost all night.
I'm not sure a stretch of basketball this season has epitomized the old coaches' adage that "basketball is a game of runs" quite like the middle quarters of this game. The Magic outscored the Raptors 30-7 over a stretch of nearly eight minutes during the second quarter, only to see Toronto respond with a 22-2 run of their own for just over the next six minutes of game time.
As expected after the loss of O.G. Anunoby, it appears Nurse will be rolling with an eight-man rotation until further notice, though it was surprising that his choice for a ninth man in Game 1 was Jodie Meeks, not Jeremy Lin.
Meeks can shoot, attack a closeout off the dribble, and offers more defensively than Lin, so this may be something we continue to see going forward, at least until Patrick McCaw returns to the lineup.
"People thought we were gonna be playing for lottery balls, and right now we're in the playoffs and just won Game 1." - Terrence Ross
Toronto was the NBA's most efficient team in transition during the regular season, while Orlando was No. 7 in defensive transition efficiency and No. 2 in total transition points allowed. Look for Steve Clifford's team to continue playing low-risk, low-turnover ball on the offensive end and staying committed to getting back in transition on the defensive end, as they did Saturday to snuff out a lot of the Raptors' usual fast-break offense. How many of those trademark Lowry-to-Siakam full-court passes did we see in Game 1? Maybe one?
The Magic will largely punt on the offensive glass as part of that strategy, despite their length and athleticism, in order to ensure they're tracking back on defense. Between that, Orlando's third-ranked defensive rebound rate, both teams finishing in the top 10 in terms of opponents' effective field goal percentage, and the two sides combining for a defensive rebound rate of 82.8 percent in Game 1, it's a pretty safe bet that more often than not, the Raptors and Magic will be getting just one shot per possession in this series.
That means they need to be generating the highest quality looks each time down the floor, not hesitating when they get those looks, and of course, knocking those shots down. The Raptors need to shoot better than 33.3 percent from downtown against this Magic team.