I've been following the Raptors all season long cause they
1. Have Anthony Parker
2. Publish torrents of all their games, so I can follow easily
And since I've been following the Pacers for the past year and a half or so, and I got to watch the game live on the internet - I'd like to share my perspective:
To me it's pretty amazing how these 2 players are similar. They play the role of the bigman star of the team who need to have good games for their teams to succeed. Last night Bosh had a below average game. He was forcing too much, settling for jumpers, and being his usual non-aggressive self on defence. O'neal was playing better. Probably the best style I've seen from him. Posting up and passing out. Barely forcing fadeaways, and always keeping the Raps interior defense on its heels. JO is the one who dished out to Granger's 3rd quarter 3's, and JO was the one playing great defense on Bosh. He seems more mature, and more understanding of his new role. Really surprised me.
These guys obviously profitted from the trade in playing time, but more importantly in playing style, and in definitive roles. Quis penetrates and dishes. Danny shoots 3's. They both had very good games (especially Danny hitting a wild %, and Quis with that prayer shot that went in). It's obvious they're confidence levels are high and they are finally playing to their potential.
New guys - Dunleavy, Murphy
Dunleavy was ok. Not great, but played solid. I'm not sure there's much more to his game than what he's giving right now. 15 points on so-so shooting, a few rebs, some assists in 30 minutes. Overall he shares the ball and doesnt force nearly as much as Jax or Al. Murphy was superb IMO. "Foster with a midrange jumper" is an understatement. His rebounding was excellent, his defense was great - both the man to man, but especially the help on screens, which is what the Raps really like to do. His "midrange" extends almost to the 3 point line. If he keeps this up - he's clearly going to help the Pacers A LOT. Diogu, by the way, although didnt play a lot showed what he's about - inside presence with a body not big enough IMO. Unless he develops a midrange shot and some ball handling - he'll see more bench than court. Overall - I'd say the trade is REALLY working out so far for the Pacers.
A bit about the Raptors
The Raps are going up. 3 straight wins before this game (without TJ Ford), and 7-3 in the last 10. Their style of play dictates the ball be in the PGs hands to initiate, which primarily means penetrate or "get the ball to Bosh". On rare occasions do they use the wings or have any other go-to plays. It's sufficient when Bosh can dominate, but it's not good enough when Bosh is struggling or facing a strong defensive opponent, like last night. Personally IMO they're usage of Anthony Parker is almost outrageous. I'm pretty sure next year when Mitchell will be out Parker's role will be a much more productive one (btw - what a DUNK on O'neal!). Bargnani is learning, Garbo is still adjusting, Ford, Calderon, Bosh, Graham - they're still kids. Toronto needs a rebounding presence - a "banger" (somewhat like Murphy or Foster), and a coach to design some plays for this group of talented players - and they can really become a threat.
What won the game for the Pacers
I'll give a few reasons off the top of my head:
1. Toronto coming off a back-to-back. Not surprising the Pacers made their run late 3rd early 4th, and the Raps didnt have the gas for a run back.
2. Excellent shooting from the Pacers side - 50% 3's (11-22). 2nd half percentages were outstanding, and not for the lack of defense.
3. Clutch (& lucky) daggers from Armstrong (7 straight points early 4th to push lead to 10+), Marquis (THE shot) and Tinsley (2 3's to seal the deal)
4. Defending Bosh - Chris had a rough day at the office against Murphy and Oneal
5. JO's share-the-ball winning strategy
6. Defensive rebounding, especially from Murphy & Foster. It was 1&Done all night for the Raps.
It was a closer game than the final score suggests. In a 7-game series I'm not sure which team prevails, and if you take a look at the standings - it might just come to that...