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Playoffs 2019

NBA Playoffs 2019: Five takeaways from the Toronto Raptors' commanding Game 4 win over the Orlando Magic

The Toronto Raptors took care of business in Game 4 of their first-round series with the Orlando Magic, beating them by a final score of 107-85.

Kawhi Leonard led the way for the Raptors with a game-high 34 points. Pascal Siakam and Norman Powell were Toronto's second-leading scorers with 16 points each, followed by Serge Ibaka with 13.

Even though they didn't score much, several other Raptors managed to make an impact, most notably Marc Gasol with his defence on Nikola Vucevic and Kyle Lowry with his usual hustle and playmaking.

For more, here are five takeaways from Monday's impressive win...

Kawhi Leonard bouncing back

Kawhi Leonard didn't look like himself in Game 3. Battling flu-like symptoms, he missed 14 of his 19 shot attempts and committed a playoff career-high six turnovers.

Game 4 was a different story.

Leonard came out aggressive with nine points in the first quarter to set the tone for the Raptors. He scored nine more points in the second quarter to give him 18 at the half.

Leonard did all of his second-quarter scoring over a three-minute period that helped the Raptors extend their lead from five to 11. He also made some plays defensively during that stretch, his most memorable being this left-handed block on Nikola Vucevic:

Leonard then poured in 12 points in the third, which was much-needed with Aaron Gordon having his best quarter (16 points) of the series.

Leonard finished the game with 34 points (12-20 FG) in only 34 minutes of play. It's his second 30-point game of the series.

Playoff Kawhi really is something else.

A breakout game for Aaron Gordon

While young teams aren't typically expected to pull off the upset when they grind their way to the playoffs, they do gain invaluable postseason experience.

In Game 4 - the fourth playoff game of his five-year career - Aaron Gordon had a number of signature moments despite the fact that they came in a losing effort. The 23-year-old finished the night with a team-high 25 points on 10-for-17 shooting from the field.

Gordon put his stamp on the game with a dominant third quarter in which he went 6-for-6 from the field and 3-for-3 from the free throw line to score 16 of his 25 points on the night.

The ability to take over in a playoff game is an ability that many players fail to attain throughout the course of their careers. That Gordon displayed such an ability this early on in his playoff career is a big sign of encouragement for a Magic franchise that has a number of question marks surrounding its future.

With the young talent of Markelle Fultz, Mo Bamba, Jonathan Isaac and Gordon in the fold, this team needs a player to emerge as the go-to guy as its core matures and they work to become one of the East's top teams.

Should the Magic live up to their potential in the coming years, performances like tonight's show that Gordon can be the guy in tense situations.

Bench production

After struggling through the first three games of the playoffs, Toronto's bench came alive in Game 4. Not only did the second unit combine for 38 points, they made over half of their shot attempts for the first time this series.

All of those points came from Fred VanVleet, Norman Powell and Serge Ibaka, too. They were the only three bench players to get real minutes during the competitive part of the game, with Nick Nurse putting Jeremy Lin, Eric Moreland and Patrick McCaw in when the outcome had already been decided.

Powell in particular gave the Raptors a nice boost off the bench. He was responsible for 16 of the team's 38 bench points, doing so on an efficient 7-for-9 shooting from the field.

He knocked down one 3-pointer and scored several baskets around the rim, none louder than this slick reverse:

The Raptors will need much more of that from Powell and the rest of the bench in the coming weeks as they look to make their way through the Eastern Conference.

A tough game for Terrence Ross

In the game's closing moments, the camera panned to a dejected Terrence Ross, who had a difficult night to say the least.

Ross finished Game 4 with just five points in nearly 31 minutes of action and Orlando was outscored by 25 points while he was on the floor.

Ross connected on only one of his five shot attempts, his only make being a deep 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter.

It wasn't necessarily his fault, though.

Coming into the series, it was no secret that Ross' ability to get going quickly on the offensive end can sway a game in the Magic's favour. Orlando's sharpshooting swingman averaged 18.9 points while shooting 46.9 percent from the field and connecting on nearly 45.0 percent of his 8.9 3-point attempts over the last 10 games of the regular season.

The Raptors clearly made an effort to limit Ross on the offensive end, and his lack of shot attempts are the biggest indicator of his being a focal point for Toronto's defence. Prior to Game 4, the last time Ross had shot five or fewer field goals in a game was in the Magic's win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Nov. 17 - the 15th game of the 2018-19 regular season.

In order to avoid elimination in Game 5, Orlando must find ways to integrate Ross back into the offence and adjust to Toronto's defensive strategy.

New territory

For the first time in franchise history, the Raptors lead 3-1 in a playoff series.

Game 4 also marked the third time the Raptors have won three straight games in the playoffs, this being the second time it has happened in the same series, per Blake Murphy of The Athletic.

That they've managed to do it after losing Game 1 in the closing seconds is a testament to the experience of players like Kyle Lowry, Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green and Marc Gasol.

"We know who we are and this is one game," Lowry said after the loss. "We've got to make sure we know who we are and execute what we can do. When we do what we are supposed to do, we are really, really good."

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