After Game 4, that question was easy for Frank Vogel to answer.
"Right from the start, from the first quarter, we were playing for each other," said Pacers head coach Frank Vogel.
The Pacers shared the ball and the spotlight after the game as Ian Mahinmi took in his first post-game podium experience. Mahinmi joked about his first time on the podium, wondering where the Gatorade prop was while gingerly taking the stage and sitting down to avoid further strain on his back which ached, but held up well enough for the Pacers center to deliver a monster game with 22 points, 10 rebounds (both postseason career highs) and five assists.
Those five assists led the team and revealed how the Pacers shared the ball all day, finishing with 24 assists and just 12 turnovers. Mahinmi dished out one more assist from the podium.
"I can't take credit for this today," Mahinmi said. "Most of the shots were dunks and shots under the rim. My teammates did an awesome of finding me. Tonight was a total team effort."
Yes it was. Funny how that works, no?
Here are some more notes, quotes and numbers from the Fieldhouse:
- George Hill didn't make the podium but not because his game wasn't worthy. 22 points on 9 of 11 FGA helped keep the Pacers running ahead all day, while also shifting some of the offensive burden from Paul George, allowing him to keep DeMar DeRozan in check.
- PG was looking for help after Game 3 and he found it in the efficient effort of GHill and Mahinmi. The pair combined for 44 points, making a combined 18 of just 25 shots. Ridiculous!
- For the first time in the series, the Pacers outrebounded the Raptors, 43-40. The 15 offensive rebounds helped give the Pacers a 23-18 advantage in second-chance points, which was a big problem in the two earlier losses. The extra interior effort also gave the Pacers a gaping 50-26 advantage in points in the paint -- the first time the Pacers have been on the plus side of this stat in the series.
- Former Pacer Luis Scola delivered the most Luis Scola quote possible after the game. "We can lose," Scola said. He went on to express the key to the series in Scola-ese: "We just have to win all the games by one and do it four times before they do it four times." Love Luis.
- For further evidence of the Pacers moving the ball and utilizing the inside-out game, look at the assist numbers. Front court players combined for 14 of the Pacers 24 assists which started on the team's first possession, when Mahinmi had the ball on the baseline under the hoop and found an open George Hill in the corner for a three-pointer.
- After amassing a comfortable 20 point lead in the first half, the Pacers gave up a 5-0 run to the Raptors in the final 35 seconds of the first half. After a clunky third quarter with plenty of chances to crumble, the Pacers defense held strong and never allowed Toronto to cut the deficit to less than double digits. In fact, the lead dropped to 11 once but the Pacers found an answer each time it appeared the Raps were mounting a rally.
- DeMar DeRozan may not want to credit Paul George or the Pacers defense, but he does keep missing shots. DeRozan had eight points on 4 for 15 from the field, leaving him shooting 29.6 percent for the series, exactly 15 percentage points lower than his regular season numbers. After making almost 34 percent of his three-pointers in the regular season, he is 0 for the series thus far on eight attempts.
- Thanks to the early tip time, Paul George planned to enjoy the win and a beautiful evening on Geist by hopping in his fishing boat and catching some crappie and bass.