Game 3 is in the books and it was great. Let's take a look at exactly what went well for the Raptors, what is continuing to go well from earlier games, and what is new.
The Greatness of Jonas Valanciunas
Still great. The Pacers made an adjustment to really try to keep the ball away from JV, and it opened up a lot of floor for Lowry and DeRozan. Both had TS%'s near 50% for the first time in the playoffs, which still isn't great but is a far cry from the 42% and 30% they were carrying through the first two games.
And still Valanciunas was great. He posted nine points on seven used possessions (eight shots, one trip to the line, two turnovers and four offensive rebounds), and 14 boards in only 27 minutes. Once again, an impressive per 36 statline of 12 points, 19 boards. That brings his series long per 36 averages to 19.9 points and 21.7 rebounds.
And it showed this game, with his team-best on-court net rating of +22.9.
A Back to Life DeMarre Carroll
This seems new. Certainly the minutes load he carried is new, with his 20 minute restriction clearly gone and him logging 35 minutes.
But Carroll, in spite of some foul trouble in the first two games, was having a pretty great defensive impact, in individual defence at least.
Through the first two games, Carroll's opponents were shooting 29% from the field and only 25% from distance. Those numbers are 15% and 13% below the players' season averages.
And his impact this game was obvious. Paul George had a lot of trouble scoring -- he needed 29 possessions to score his 25 points, and on a team devoid of offensive talent, that spells doom for the Pacers.
Balanced Scoring (and Efficiency)
The standard way to look at whether a team had balanced scoring is how many players scored in double digits. The Raptors had four (Lowry, DeRozan, Carroll and Joseph) with JV not far behind with 9 points. Pretty balanced.
But another way to look at it is how the distribution of shots lined up with the distribution of points. And the Raptors were downright spooky with how balanced their attack was in terms of efficacy. Here's a list of everyone who played over 10 minutes.
Player - FGA's - Points
DeRozan - 19 - 21
Lowry - 21 - 21
Carroll - 16 - 17
Joseph - 10 - 10
Valanciunas - 8 - 9
Patterson - 7 - 7
Biyombo - 5 - 6
Scola - 4 - 5
Practically the entire team produced almost exactly a point for each FGA. Rarely do you see such balance in production and efficiency across a team.
It's another demonstration of the reality of this series when the Raptors don't shoot themselves in the foot with wacky rotations. The Raptors simply have too many ways to score. Shut down DeRozan, and JV will be all over you inside. Slow down JV, DeRozan and Lowry have their best shooting games. Manage to slow down all of them on any given possession? You get mowed down by Joseph, Patterson, Carroll or Biyombo.
And that's why this performance points to a series win for the Raptors (and, frankly, a five game series if this play continues). The Raptors have proven they can succeed no matter what you take away from them. For the Pacers, without George scoring a tremendous amount on tremendous efficiency, that success has not been there.