The Toronto Raptors head to Indiana with their first round playoff series tied at one game apiece, thanks in large part to reserves Cory Joseph and Patrick Patterson. As an NBA Champion with the Spurs, Joseph is used to winning, but Patterson has never been out of the first round of the playoffs and just getting there isn’t enough anymore.
“In order for us to have a successful year in my eyes, we have to advance out of the first round,” Patrick Patterson told Pro Bball Report. “Despite all the accomplishments and accolades and records that we set, at the end of the day for this to be a successful year we have to advance outside of this first round.
“That’s my focus. That’s where my eye is on, getting to the second round. Trying to do whatever I can possible out there on the court. Whether it’s setting screens, talking, communicating, taking advantage of my opportunities offensively, rebounding. Whatever I can do to get my teammates going and our juices flowing. That’s just my mindset for the playoffs.”
The early first round offensive struggles of the Raptors All-Star guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan have been worked over ad nauseam, but this Raptors team is deeper than just their star players. Toronto’s solid reserves have stepped things up in the postseason to average 44.5 points on 55.8 percent shooting from the field and 47.1 percent from three led by Patterson with an unbelievable true shooting percentage of 96.8 and 11.5 points per game. Joseph is second on the team in scoring at 17 points per game and an 88.2 true shooting percentage.
If you’ve watched Joseph play for Team Canada in the summer, you’ve witnessed his ability to step up and take over a game as a lead guard when called upon. The NBA playoffs are a bigger stage and this is the biggest role of his NBA career, but the local Toronto kid has always had this in him.
Since Patterson arrived in Toronto, he’s been a Coach Casey favorite for his defense and three-point shot, but it’s never been certain if there would ever be anything more to his game and that’s something he’s been working on dispelling all season. It hasn’t always looked pretty and some of Patterson’s moves during games have been especially cringe-worthy, but it looks like he’s put everything together in time for the playoffs.
“It’s something I am trying to improve on as far as attacking the basket, putting the ball on the floor and finishing with confidence,” Patterson said. “(I am) a lot (more) comfortable. Just repetition and practice, putting the work in after practice on my own time. Teams do run me off (the three-point line), so being able to make a play whether it’s a pass or some type of finish around the rim.”
If anything Patterson has looked like a man possessed in the first two games against the Pacers at both ends of the court. The 27-year-old forward has found another gear, timing and touch.
He promised Toronto fans a win in Game Two and he’s one player who hasn’t minced words about what an acceptable level of achievement will be for the Raptors in this postseason. Patterson is saying what everyone inside and outside of the Raptors organization believes. This time, just getting to the playoffs isn’t good enough.