USA TODAY Sports
When it was time to close out a home win over the Celtics, the Pacers came up empty and were left with a tough loss to digest.
The Pacers appeared in control throughout the game but the Celtics were always able to hang around within striking distance. The Pacers only led by seven at the half and pushed the lead to 14 late in the third quarter, but the C's kept grinding away and then shut down the Pacers in the fourth quarter.
Indiana only scored 13 points in the fourth, but none after Paul George scored the Pacers final points on a three-pointer with 4:36 remaining in the game. PG's three capped an 11-point burst over a two-minute period, including eight straight by George Hill. So, yeah, in the other 10 minutes of the fourth quarter the Pacers only had two D.J. Augustin free throws to show for their efforts at the offensive end.
Credit Boston's defense for mucking up the Pacers half-court offense, especially Avery Bradley working through ball screens up top. Bradley, by the way, entered the game shortly after PG's last bucket in the fourth to spearhead Boston's defensive effort down the stretch.
The Pacers normally solid defense, fell victim to a lack of communication and a couple of backdoor cuts for buckets by Bradley and then the game-winner from Jeff Green. There was plenty of head shaking and an awareness of how they let a W slip away in the Pacers locker room after the game.
This game will serve as a constant reminder of what the Pacers need to do to succeed in the playoffs, so it is certainly better to learn that lesson in early March instead of late April. Think this was a big win for Boston? Just ask Paul Pierce.
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