“Love it,” DeMarre Carroll said about playing the Pacers. “Playing against Paul George, he’s one of the top players in the league. This isn’t my first rodeo against him.”
The Toronto Raptors have won the Atlantic Division crown and set a new franchise record for regular season wins for the third year in a row, but those weren’t the teams goals. This year the Raptors are looking to advance in the playoffs beyond the opening round for the first time since 2001. To that end, president and general manager Masai Ujiri’s biggest move last summer was to sign the Hawks free agent forward DeMarre Carroll.
Carroll was the glue in a tough Hawks defense that led the Eastern Conference in wins last season and arguably only lost to the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals because Carroll was playing hurt.
Carroll was to be the glue of a bolstered Raptors defense this season, but foot and knee problems caused him to miss the guts of the regular season and he only returned just in time to help the 56-win Raptors in the playoffs. They might just need him too. Carroll was and likely is the player Toronto will turn to if the Pacers All-Star George gets going.
‘(George) can do it all,” Carroll explained. “He plays on both ends, so that makes him really special. At the same time I got to do my job and try to make every shot hard for him. The motto I believe in, I don’t want him hitting shots from early in the game at the end of the game.”
Carroll won’t start in Game One, that honor goes to Toronto’s surprising rookie Norman Powell, but Carroll is ready to go and willing to do whatever it takes.