It’s hard playing poker and watching the game. However, it was a pretty good night. The Raptors won and I won, so I’d say that both of us got the most out of last night.
I’ve been criticized about my pessimism in the last two games. Although those games lead to a win and a close loss, the flaws in the Raptors’ sets made those games feel like the Raptors were out of sync. High turnovers were especially a concern due to the fact they were largely a result of poor spacing. It was this poor spacing that lead the Raptors to thread passes through traffic or try to make a direct pass when the Raptors should have swung it around to a different angle. For the first half, we saw the same kind of Raptors team that has been haunting us at home, but then spacing started to get better and the Raptors managed to shoot better in the second half. Calderon recognized his scoring chances and Ford managed to get his contributions in effectively. In fact, both point guards created chances from themselves and others, creating difficulties for their counterpart, Jamaal Tinsley. Nevertheless, Indiana made a game of it and lead for the game leading up to the half. By the end, 12 players from both teams combined scored in double figures.
Oddly enough, it was a night of unsung heroes. One of the unsung heroes has got to be Carlos Delfino. The Argentinian Pest has kept a relatively good defensive presence in most games, and has contributed where he can in the games that he’s played. Taking charges, making deflections, keeping active on rebound chances, and he’s made some contributions on the offense as well. Maceo Baston proved to be a solid inside presence, and Garbajosa, perhaps invigorated by the recent articles about his unhappiness, showed that he can still be a valuable contributing factor to the team.
I’m going to take some time to talk about Moon though. It’s the second straight game where we’ve seen Moon become stuck on the perimeter, instead of attempting to slash and move without the ball on a consistent basis. Granted, his defense has continued to be stellar, but there’s just so much more that he can do. Getting the most out of his potential is going to have to be his first priority, and luckily, Sam seems to be willing to give him a lot of rope to work with. Without a doubt though, the biggest play of the night was the flagrant foul that was laid on him by Danny Granger. Taking it and getting back up to play some more solid minutes proved to me that Moon has the toughness and heart that we need. If he can build on that feeling, while continuing to keep his offensive game on track, Moon will be the special story of the year.
However, there’s always room for improvement, and for the second straight game, Bosh and Bargnani had horrible shooting nights, and did not look like their usual selves. Bosh, committing 5 turnovers, and shooting a paltry 33%, made up for it with his scoring from the line. Nevertheless, we still saw problems as he only had 4 rebounds, and at times, tried to force his game. Bargnani, looking lost on the defensive end, had a second bad game in a row. Unlike Bosh, Bargnani doesn’t even have free throws to show for his night. Here’s the question though. Why doesn’t Bargnani have as many free throw trips to the line as Bosh? A high free throw shooting percentage, with an ability to create match up problems, Bargnani should be able to get the line at least 5 times a game. Unfortunately, on nights where he isn’t aggressive on either end, he seldom figures out how to inject himself into the game to leave an impact. In addition, this early into the season, he has looked very ordinary when compared to the first few games of this young season.
In any case, it was a well deserved win, and a good look at how the Raptors can shut down a team. Granted, the Raptors were out rebounded by Indy, but in the end, they managed to dictate the pace in the 2nd half and take control of the game, making the Pacers play to their rhythm. And speaking of rhythm, thanks to Jack Armstrong for this great moment…
Next Up: Golden State @ Toronto