The statistics tell us that we've seen this before.
The Indiana Pacers toppled the mighty defending champion Boston Celtics in the home season-opener last year. It was a victory that eventually led to three straight wins and a 4-3 record to open the 2008 season. Three of the four wins came against bottom-feeding NBA squads (two against the Nets, one over the Thunder) and the three losses occurred against the playoff-bound (or nearly-so, pertaining to the Suns).
So now that the Pacers have triumphed over the mighty Celts again (113-104), bum-rushed their way to a 4-3 record, and rattled off four straight wins. So it feels the same as last year, right? Nah, I don't think so. As I as
screaming at the TV waiting patiently for the Pacers to hold on in the final minutes last night, I got the feeling that this wasn't just luck. Maybe this team is different from last year.
Danny Granger's 29 points was familiar, but his defense (three steals, one block, stop-gap defensive on each possession) was not. Dahntay Jones' went into a frenzy driving straight into the heart of the Celts' front-court titans as he counted up 25 points of his own. That was new. The team passed and swung the ball around the court, finding wide-open jumpers in corners that have never seen the light of day in Conseco before, helping lead the team to capture 31 assists compared to Boston's 18. That was a pleasant surprise as well. Oh yeah, and this team dropped a 32-18 advantage in the third quarter. Wow.
Things this team never did last year was done last night with apparent ease. Even the small-ball lineup, with Granger at power forward, held its own in the paint despite giving up nine boards to the Celts.
After looking like a team on the eve of destruction during its first three outings this season, the small-ball Pacers are rejuvenated and looking good. It takes a total team effort to beat a team like Boston, and it happened on Saturday. Brandon Rush, Earl Watson, Roy Hibbert and the bench players each contributed key moments that helped keep the Pacers in the game in the first half, and eventually take control in that dominating third quarter.
So check out the links after the jump that report on the Pacers first four-game winning streak since the end of the 07-08 season.
- Box Score
- Photo Gallery
- AP Story
- Bruno outlines his postgame report with a great recap of the game, some comments on the return of Marquis Daniels to Indiana and thoughts by coach Jim O'Brien on Mike Dunleavy's return from injury. The important stat of the night from Bruno's report, in my opinion, was this one: "The Pacers have now attempted as many, or more, free throws as the opposition in each of the last four games and they are 4-0 this season when shooting as many, or more, free throws as the opposition." That was a stat that bugged the bejeezus out of me last year and this preseason. Behind Jones and Granger consistently attacking the hoop, their teammates are taking notice and following them to the free-throw line. Here's also a link to Bruno's live blog.
- John Oehser pieced together this NBA.com exclusive recap on the game, while also penning an article for Examiner.com here.
- Recap from Pacers blog Always Miller Time.
- We're going streaking! Mike Wells focuses on the four-game winning streak for the blue and gold in his recap of the Pacers' win. He notes that Jones was fueled by the Celtics' trash-talking and his own poor shooting in the first half. Glad to see someone stick it back in their faces once-in-awhile. Wells nabbed the following quote from JOB:
"We had beaten three teams that were struggling and we needed to get a win against a quality opponent, and Boston certainly qualifies as a quality opponent. That was a terrific basketball game by our players and a great house here at Conseco." -- Jim O'Brien
Wells also empties the notebook as rookies A.J. Price and Tyler Hansbrough have a funny story tell about their first meeting with Celtics' star Kevin Garnett this summer. Here is also a link to Wells' Pacers Insider blog.
- The Boston Herald talked to team president Larry Bird about the current state of the Celtics' organization. Here is also a link to the paper's recap from the Celts perspective.
- Other viewpoints from the green side of the court: SB Nation's Celtics Blog, ESPN Boston, and the Boston Globe.