After watching last night's game I firmly believe the Pacers are a new team. Artest has such a huge effect on everything when he is on the floor, every single thing that happens he has a hand in. Of course not everything he does is positive, but you must admit he has a huge effect on every possession.
I realize it was only one game and if you did not see the game you might not have a clue as to what I am talking about.
But the team was very different last night.
Let me count the ways.
10 man rotation, something Carlisle said on his radio show Thursday night that they were going to.
In this regards, I believe the second unit really missed AL Harrington, if Bender did not have such a good game, the second unit would have really struggled. I have thought for two years now that AL does not fit as well with the starters as he does the reserves. We'll see how that plays out.
Reggie appears like he will get a few more minutes and shoot more. Most importantly he seems to be ready for it.
Did you like Foster being on the court at crunch time. I sure did. Foster over the years has a knack for getting huge rebounds late in games, not that he doesn't throughout game and maybe rebounds only seem bigger late in games, but he IMO makes plays at the end that really help the team.
Peck, you had to like what Foster did in the last 9 minutes of the game getting 8 rebounds and many of the tough position type that you claim Foster rarely gets.
I see Freddie getting more minutes, because he will be on the floor every minute that Reggie isn't, before Ron went down Ronnie played shooting guard for about 6 minutes every game. Is Freddie ready, I think he is. He is now the Pacers best perimeter defender.
Let's face it without Artest playing there are a lot more shots for everyone else, who should get those shots. AL might get a few, but I think Reggie will get the majority of those.
Pacers are certainly not a better team without Ronnie, but they are a drastically different team, the ball movement will increase, it will have to because Artest created so many scoring plays for himself and for his teammates, that loss will really show up against the good teams late in games.
Just realized in all this discussion I have not mentioned defense at all. Unusual for me, but I'll stop for now.