Maybe the Pacers looked at my W/L projections for the playoff race and figured they could give up a loss tonight. Yes, there were plenty of open shots that bounced for the Pacers, but in the first half, the Blue and Gold didn't look like a team desperately fighting for a playoff spot. Instead, the seemed content to let the Cetlics force the action and dictate what they would let the Pacers do.
The Pacers had a better showing in the second half, after a little prodding from O'B at the half no doubt, but the die was cast for this L with the 30-point first half. Again, the offense was off and the Celtics defense was stifling. Still, there was no sense of urgency from anyone on the Pacers' side.
Per usual, the Pacers continued to play for 48 minutes making what should've been a 25-30-point loss into a 15-point loss at 92-77. Meanwhile, the Atlanta Hawks continued to play like a team that expects to extend their season into the first round of the playoffs. The Hawks stole a victory in overtime after the Toronto Raptors imploded down the stretch in the fourth quarter. As you can see, that game was a projected loss for the Hawks, so now the Pacers' playoff hopes are hanging by a thread.
That's probably for the best since the Celtics have no problem shutting down the Pacers. While the Pacers missed plenty of open shots (and tons of 3-balls) they also missed a lot of contested shots. The Pacers had little luck attacking inside either as the C's were too long and strong for anything the Pacers brought to the rim. Too good.
It was nice to see Jermaine O'Neal playing tonight, although he looked much like the J.O. we saw earlier in the year, playing at less than 100%.
The math don't lie and the Pacers are stuck hoping the sizzling Hawks are doused with a run of poor games because unless the Pacers can run the table, they'll need Atlanta to drop all their remaining games. Not likely.
Here's where the playoff race stands with updated projections for games played.
|@ Boston||L||@ Memphis||W||@ Detroit||L|
|Atlanta||W||@ Philly||L||@ Toronto||L|
|@ Philly||L||@ Indiana||L||@ Milwaukee||W|
|Charlotte||W||@ New York||W||Charlotte||W|
|@ Washington||L||Boston||L||@ Boston||L|