There is no one on the Toronto Raptors with more postseason experience than Tyler Hansbrough, the former Pacers big man has been in 38 postseason games. Hansbrough has been the Raptors energizer and when Amir Johnson was injured, he earned a spot in the starting lineup by being his team’s hardest worker on the floor. Against a bigger Washington Wizards frontcourt and one the NBA’s fastest guards, the Raptors will need Hansbrough’s defense and rebounding during this first round playoff series.
Hansbrough was listed as a probable starter in the team’s ‘Game Notes’ bringing out the annual query about about his game. Does Hansbrough have another gear to bring to the playoffs?
“I always play the game the same way,” Hansbrough said right before the game. “If there is another gear, we’ll find out. I guess for me it’s more mental preparation, trying to know the (opposition) a lot better. I go out there and play the way I play and I can tell sometimes guys play different, it’s chippy and things like that, (but) nothing changes for me.”
On a team that loves the three-ball, Hansbrough makes his living in the paint playing a rough and tumble physical style. ‘Psycho T’ was the nickname he earned in college and he can be just as a disruptive force now, drawing fouls and playing tough defense. However, against the Wizards, it’s defense that he’ll be focused on.
“For me personally it’s going to be defense and rebounding,” Hansbrough said. “If I can do that, especially with Wall coming down, we got to be able to stop him in transition and that’s going to be big. A point guard alone can’t do that. It’s a team effort to do that. For me, if I can do that and rebound, I can help this team.”
Hansbrough has earned his start in the postseason. Just how big a role Hansbrough will have likely depends on how well guys like Jonas Valanciunas, Amir Johnson and Patrick Patterson play, but the Raptors are lucky to have him. Hansbrough is a luxury Toronto is likely to need to escape the first round of the playoffs.