Game 2 takeaways: Kawhi, Raptors throttle Magic to even series
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The Toronto Raptors responded to another Game 1 loss with a wire-to-wire, 111-82 beatdown of the Orlando Magic on Tuesday night.

Here are some takeaways from the most lopsided postseason victory in Raptors history:

Playoff Kawhi

Aaron Gordon is physically built to defend players like Kawhi Leonard, and the Magic forward enjoyed some defensive success against him during the regular season, but it appears Kawhi really meant it when he said a few weeks ago that the postseason is the time to "lace them up."

In Game 2, the former Finals MVP poured in 37 points on 15-of-22 shooting, abusing Gordon and the Magic at every turn. Leonard used screens effectively to create separation, broke down Orlando's big men off the dribble when a switch created a mismatch on the perimeter, got to the rim at will, and pulled up to shoot over helpless Magic defenders with rather hilarious ease.

"It looks like they're using him a bit more," Gordon said of Leonard following the game. "His usage rate is up, and he's taking advantage of that. He's using the pick-and-roll very well, he's getting to his spots, and he's knocking down shots. He had a really efficient game tonight, and I have to do my part to make it more difficult for him back in Orlando."

Leonard also contributed four assists - resulting in 10 points - compared to just one turnover, and continued to defend at an elite level despite playing through early foul trouble.

Raptors head coach Nick Nurse mentioned afterward that it wasn't easy to leave Leonard in the game with two fouls in the first quarter and three fouls in the second, but if there's a defender you can trust in foul trouble, it's the Klaw. Leonard has averaged only two fouls per 36 minutes for his career, has more career steals than fouls, and has finished in the top five in defensive plays per foul committed in each of his last five healthy seasons.

Lowry bounces back

Ron Turenne / National Basketball Association / Getty

Kyle Lowry followed up his scoreless Game 1 performance by pouring in 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting to go along with seven assists, four rebounds, two steals, and a block in 37:36 of Game 2 action.

As Lowry himself conceded after going 0-for-7 on Saturday, it's not that he simply needed to knock down the shots he was taking, but he also needed to be more aggressive. In Game 2, Lowry not only took six more shots, but he was more assertive in pushing the ball up the court, and in putting pressure on the Magic's defense, even when he wasn't necessarily the one finishing the play.

"I think just me being more aggressive, getting downhill, getting to my spots a lot easier, figuring it out," he said postgame.

Through two contests against the Magic, the Raptors are plus-41 in 71:27 with Lowry on the court and minus-15 in 24:33 with their five-time All-Star on the bench.

Defensive adjustments

After taking Lowry off Game 1 hero D.J. Augustin midway through the series opener, the Raptors opened Game 2 with All-Defensive Team candidate Danny Green guarding the Magic point guard. After his 25-point outburst on Saturday, Augustin finished with just nine points on 1-of-6 shooting in Game 2.

In fact, after scoring 19 points on 7-of-9 shooting in the first half of Game 1, Augustin's produced only 15 points on 3-of-10 shooting in the six quarters since, with Green often being tasked with the defensive assignment.

Another subtle defensive adjustment you might've missed midway through Game 2 was the personnel used against former Raptor Terrence Ross. After Norman Powell (and effective double-teams on dribble-handoffs) helped keep Ross in check during Game 1, the Magic's best reserve scorer caught fire during the second quarter of Game 2 as Fred VanVleet attempted to chase him around screens.

VanVleet is sneakily good at defending shooters by getting into their bodies coming around those screens, but he's frankly too small to contest a bigger shooter like Ross, who was elevating for clean looks from deep. So, the Raptors had Leonard guard Ross on some of those same plays in the second half, and to no surprise, it worked.

Where's Vuc?

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Nikola Vucevic put together a fantastic season, but he's been mostly invisible through two games of these playoffs, averaging 8.5 points on 28.6 percent shooting.

Sure, the Raptors are an excellent, lengthy defensive team, Marc Gasol has done a tremendous job guarding Vucevic down low, and Toronto's brought quick double-teams when needed, but we're talking about an All-Star big man. It's surprising how uncomfortable and unsure of himself Vucevic has looked working out of those doubles.

"I got the ball in decent spots in the post ... they double-teamed me early, and it was hard for me to create anything," he said after Monday's loss. "They did a good job taking away a lot of stuff, a lot of my strengths, and I just have to figure it out. I expected them to have a big focus on me, so I just have to look at the tape and see what I can do better."

Gasol the anchor

It's hard to overstate how good Gasol has been on the defensive end so far.

Aside from some miscommunication on Augustin's game-winner in the opener, Gasol's seemingly always been in the right spot and always had his hands in the right lane, to say nothing of the job he's done pushing Vucevic out of his comfort zone in the post.

On Monday, Gasol totaled a game-high four steals in less than 22 (foul-plagued) minutes of action and has been on the court for 51 of Vucevic's 58 minutes through two games.

Quote of the game

Mark Blinch / National Basketball Association / Getty

"Your best player tired is going to be better than the guy backing him up fresh." - Magic head coach Steve Clifford, on the value of star talent during the playoffs.

Given Leonard's immense talent advantage over anyone else in this series, that might not bode well for Clifford.

What to watch for

The Magic should be content with a split in Toronto, as they'll now travel back to Orlando - where they've won nine straight and haven't lost since February - to start a best-of-five series holding home-court advantage.

The issue for the Magic is that barring the type of quirky outlier that Augustin's Game 1 outburst was, they simply don't have enough offensive talent to keep up with the Raptors, especially if Vucevic isn't going to produce anywhere near his usual levels.

Orlando's defense is legit, but Toronto's talent, led by a proven playoff performer in Leonard, can overcome it. How will the Magic overcome the Raptors' equally stout defensive pressure without a release valve?

"The ball has got to move, and that's something we struggled with early in the year," Clifford said at his postgame media conference. "Their defense had something to do with it, but I thought we got back to how we were playing in October and November, offensively."

For what it's worth, the Magic boasted the NBA's eighth-ranked offense from Feb. 1 onward after owning the No. 24 offense through Jan. 31.

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Game 2 takeaways: Kawhi, Raptors throttle Magic to even series
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