USA TODAY Sports
After a tight first quarter, the Celtics would cruise to an easy victory.
Well, that happened.
The Indiana Pacers played tough in the first quarter, in fact, led after one. But as soon as the Boston Celtics started hitting shots, it was over. The Pacers shot 31.8%, turned it over 19 times with 16 after three, were out-rebounded, and got 8-36 shooting from Paul George and David West. It's hard enough to win when Indiana plays so poorly on the offensive end and can play solid defense, but they didn't do either, leading to a lead that slowly grew and grew and grew.
If you're looking for highlights, look no further than Tyler Hansbrough, who had 19 points, mixing it up the entire night. Despite the game growing into a blowout, it became incredibly testy late, with physical play inside from Jared Sullinger and Kevin Garnett involving Hansbrough lead to Garnett's ejection. It's rare to see a game so lopsided get so hostile, but the Boston crowd wasn't going to miss the opportunity to boo Hansbrough.
The Pacers starters made up for 12 of the team's turnovers, and while D.J. Augustin only had two, he was an intregral part of one of the biggest wasted stretches of the night, when the Pacers had two consecutive fast breaks and a third possession that resulted in three consecutive turnovers. Augustin did have six and four on the night. Ben Hansbrough took the backup minutes again with George Hill out, a notable sight that the team often avoided having him handle the ball to bring it up the floor.
The heavy dose of Paul George and David West trying to get it going meant a total void of Roy Hibbert, who had a very quiet seven point and 10 rebound night. The team didn't even look to Hibbert for offense. Whether it would've resulted in a nice game for Hibbert or if it would've made any difference in the final score seems like a far stretch, but when the Pacers didn't just need a third option, but a first and/or second option, Hibbert wasn't a part of that equation.
Off the bench, Ian Mahinmi had a solid all-around game, but early foul trouble limited the impact he was able to make. Gerald Green was 1-8 from the floor for three points, not even looking like a player capable of making an impact at the NBA level tonight. Orlando Johnson got run for nearly the entire fourth quarter, scoring his first seven NBA points on 2-3 shooting. Whether the differences in nights will lead to any kind of rotation changes has yet to be seen, but it was nice to see Johnson be successful in his play.
The Pacers didn't play well defensively, the quickness of the Celtics and Rajon Rondo created a huge gap in what the Pacers were able to effectively defend. Indiana's struggled with quickness all season, and tonight was no different. They did do a decent job of forcing turnovers; there were plenty of steals in Indiana's favor, but the failure to cash in on the turnovers in a number of fast break opportunities is nothing if not inexcusable.
Indiana also struggled mightily from the line, shooting 17-28 from the stripe, while not a huge issue, they weren't able to capitalize on Boston's own free throw woes on a night they went 10-18 shooting. Ultimately, it was a game that came down to missed Pacers opportunities and an inability to get stops that put them in the L column tonight. Maybe they were due for a huge lemon of a game, but it still is a frustrating loss to take on when facing a Celtics team that was on a difficult four game losing streak of their own.
The loss drops the Pacers to 19-14 and they'll travel back to Bankers Life Fieldhouse to face the Milwaukee Bucks, who have beaten the Pacers twice this season in Milwaukee. Indiana needs to find a way to reverse fortunes against Milwaukee with the schedule stiffening up, and look to avoid their second straight loss for the first time in nearly a month.