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Playoffs 2019

NBA Playoffs 2019: What to watch for in Game 2 of Raptors vs. Magic, Nuggets vs. Spurs, Trail Blazers vs. Thunder

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Blazers vs. Thunder, Raptors vs. Magic, Nuggets vs. Nets [NBA Getty Images]

We're set to take on three more Game 2's on Wednesday with two higher-seeded teams aiming for their first victory of the postseason.

The Toronto Raptors and Denver Nuggets will look to avenge their Game 1 losses at home while the Portland Trail Blazers will try to keep the Oklahoma City Thunder out of the win column, defending their home court advantage.

Here are some things to watch for each of Wednesday's games.

How will Kyle Lowry bounce back?

Lowry had a weird Game 1.

Him going scoreless in 33 minutes of action stole the headlines, and yet Lowry dished out eight assists, grabbed seven rebounds, came up with a couple of steals and helped the Raptors outscore the Magic by 11 points when he was on the court, giving him the second-best +/- of the game.

Still, there's no denying that the Raptors are a better team when Lowry is giving them an efficient scoring punch. In wins this season, he averaged 15.1 points on 43.5 percent shooting from the field and 38.8 percent from 3-point range. He averaged only three points less in losses but did so on 35.0 percent shooting from the field and 22.9 percent from distance.

That's ... a massive difference.

Lowry said after Game 1 that he was happy with the shots he got, he just didn't knock them down.

These are the sort of looks he was likely talking about:

If Lowry can his shooting touch in Game 2 and continue to do all of the other things that make him special - push the pace, break the defence down, get after it defensively - the Raptors should be in good shape moving forward.

Will someone else step up for the Magic?

Nikola Vucevic was Orlando's leading scorer this season with 20.8 points per game.

In Game 1, the All-Star big man was held to 11 points on 3-for-14 shooting from the field.

A lot of those misses came against Gasol. Vucevic has a size advantage against most of his opponents, but Gasol has both the strength and length to make him uncomfortable in the post, where he ranked among the league leaders in scoring during the regular season .

With how well Gasol matches up with Vucevic in the post, it'll be interesting to see if the Magic try to get him going by putting him in more pick-and-rolls in Game 2. Gasol is at his best when he's holding down the paint, so Vucevic's ability to pick-and-pop could force him to venture out further than he's used to.

In addition to Vucevic, Terrence Ross had a quieter game than usual on Saturday. In his 24 minutes in Game 1, he scored 10 points off the bench on 2-for-11 shooting from the field and 1-for-5 from 3-point range.

Like Vucevic, Ross is coming off of the best season of his career. He averaged a career-high 15.1 points per game and came close to breaking the record for the most 3-pointers made by a bench player in a single season.

Knowing that Ross is at his best running off of screens, the Raptors fought hard over screens in Game 1 and forced him to either settle for difficult 3-pointers or put the ball on the floor.

Even the one 3-pointer Ross did make was heavily contested:

The Raptors were overly aggressive on a couple of possessions involving Ross, leading to breakdowns that the Magic were able to exploit , but they'll have to defend him in a similar fashion in Game 2 to prevent one of the league's most explosive bench scorers from going off.

Derrick White

This is a name you need to be familiar with, incase his Game 1 performance didn't already give you that idea.

Derrick White has been fantastic for the Spurs this season and we saw more of the same in their win over Denver this past weekend. The second-year guard scored 16 points, the second-most on the team, while filling up the box score with five assists, three rebounds and a steal.

His two biggest plays in the game came from a thunderous dunk on Paul Millsap that sent NBA Twitter into a frenzy:

And his one steal that came at the most opportune time, ripping Jamal Murray at halfcourt to seal the game for San Antonio.

This was more of the same theme from the entire night - according to NBA.com , White guarded Murray on 35 possessions, more than any other player on the Spurs. Murray's stat line on those 35 possessions: 6-for-17 shooting from the field (35.3%), 0-for-5 on 3-point attempts and one turnover.

White is a player whose name has been thrown around for All-Defensive selections and he put that type of talent on display in Game 1.

Born and raised in Colorado, playing at the University of Colorado, White is playing these road games right in his backyard and it's seemed to pack an extra punch to his game.

Jokic on the attack

This one is plain and simple.

Nikola Jokic notched a triple-double in Game 1, but Denver flat out needs him to be more aggressive.

He's their star player and he only took nine shots. He was an efficient 4-for-9 from the field but was 0-for-3 from 3-point range, and that still shouldn't stop him from attacking.

The Nuggets are a better team when Jokic plays aggressively - they were 25-11 this season when he took more than his average of 15 shots a game. In contests where the All-Star centre scored more than 25 points, the Nuggets were 14-2.

If Denver is going to pick up a home win in Game 2 and send this series to San Antonio tied, they're going to need Jokic to play on the attack.

Denver's 3-point shooting

The Nuggets didn't have it from beyond the arc in Game 1 and in a game decided by five points, it made all the difference.

They shot 6-for-28 (21.4%) from 3-point range, which was their fourth-worst shooting performance this season. Murray was 0-for-6 and Jokic shot 0-for-3. Will Barton and Paul Millsap went a combined 2-for-10, Gary Harris was a modest 1-for-3 with their bench shooting a solid 3-for-6.

Against a team like the Spurs, who finished dead last in 3-point attempts but had the highest 3-point percentage in the league, you have to be efficient with your perimeter shooting.

San Antonio was 7-for-15 from three in Game 1 - they had one more make than the Nuggets on 13 less attempts.

If the Nuggets are going to use their outside shooting to make a difference in this series, they're going to have to convert them at a higher clip to overcome Spurs' efficiency.

Needing more from Schroder

Dennis Schroder struggled all of Game 1 and it's one of the reasons the Thunder were handed a loss.

He went 5-for-17 (29.4%) from the field while missing all seven of his 3-point attempts. He scored 11 points off the bench, shy of his season average of 15.5 points per game, and with OKC's struggles offensively they cannot afford for one of their top scorers to have a game like Schroder did.

Schroder's efficiency is key to the Thunder. He shot 41.4 percent from the field this season but the games where he eclipses that mark is when OKC is most successful.

In games that Schroder shot 46.0 percent or better, the Thunder were 23-4. In the 37 games that he shot worse than his season average, OKC went 16-21.

Schroder isn't going to shoot 0-for-7 from three every game, he just had an off night. But with the necessity of his scoring, the Thunder need him to get back on track as soon as possible to bring that third scoring option to life.

Keeping Kanter off the offensive glass

It's no secret that Enes Kanter is one of the best offensive rebounders in the NBA.

His 3.8 offensive rebounds per game ranked him in the top-five this season for the second consecutive year.

He had seven offensive boards in Game 1, including two huge offensive rebounds in the final minute and a half of the fourth quarter to kill the clock and eventually help decide the outcome of the game.

The Thunder outrebounded the Trail Blazers both overall and on the offensive glass, creating more second chance points than Portland, but it's still key to box out Kanter on that end of the floor.

His seven offensive rebounds only turned into six second chance points for the Blazers but it should remain a major focus to keep him off of the offensive glass to prevent Portland from using that as another advantage over OKC in Game 2.

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