This was a straight business trip for the Boston Celtics.
The Celtics were in no mood to make friends, either. Late in the fourth quarter with the game in hand, Paul Pierce threw down an emphatic dunk on a break away with 40 second left in the game. A bit later the C's were up nine with 16 seconds left when Pierce dialed in a long three-pointer as a final F. you to the Fieldhouse crowd on the way out of town.
All business. Vicious. Straight killer.
Traits the Pacers severely lack in general and certainly didn't show tonight, while the Celtics oozed it to overcome their own struggles and find a way to win. Honestly, the Pacers put forth a great effort throughout this game, but they wasted a lot of that effort along they way by not playing smart or tough.
Once the Celtics finally seized the lead in the fourth quarter, the Pacers could only respond with frustration and tough shots against a tough defense. After the Pacers scored 26 first quarter points, with a lot of nice finishes at the rim, they could only manage 57 points the rest of the game. The Pacers succumbed to the Celtics improved defensive effort, with that guy Pierce visibly imploring hits teammates, which slowed the offense to a crawl which always means relying on contested jumpers when all else fails.
Well, it failed. More on that and some bad matchups that did the Pacers in along with a few other thoughts and observations, after the jump.
- Before the game Darren Collison tweeted that he was mad because Ray Allen denied his autograph request. Talk about all business. Actually, I initially had this as part of my open, but noticed that DC deleted the tweet and then after the game explained that his newly minted Twitter account had been hacked and he knew nothing about the autograph tweet. The "hacked Twitter account" has been a convenient excuse for athletes to explain away ill-advised tweets, but considering the brain power of a contingent of Celtics' fans at various impressive schools in the Cambridge area, hacking a Twitter account is likely child's play, so I'll give DC the benefit of the doubt on this one.
- The Pacers shot 10 of 19 (52.6%) from the field in the first quarter, again, with plenty of buckets at the rim. In fact, they only shot three 3-pointers among the 19 shots. It appeared they had solved some of the offensive woes that were holding them back in recent games. Unfortunately, they finished the game shooting 19 of 59 (32.2%).
- Roy Hibbert and Danny Granger were two key cogs in the team's early season success but they are killing the Pacers on offense right now. Hibbert made only 3 of 9 shots with a couple of turnovers and only got to the line once. Granger made 3 of his first 6 shots but then missed 10 of his next 11 and finished a paltry 5 of 21 from the field, including 0 for 6 from 3-land. Granger's game stood in stark contrast to Paul Pierce riding his team hard and pushing them to a win.
- After the Pacers went up 12 in the second quarter, Pierce simply had enough and scored 10 points in 90 seconds while admonishing his teammates.The Pacers weathered the initial run but faltered again late in the second half. At the break, the Pacers had a two-point lead but the Celtics appeared to have control of the game.
- The late second quarter run by the Celtics included a key turning point with three minutes left. The Pacers were up 7 when T.J. Ford stole the ball and pushed it up the floor. Ford hit Granger trailing for an open three, but his shot bounced long and was quickly passed ahead to Nate Robinson for a layup at the other end. Potential 10-point lead down to five in a blink.
- Credit the Pacers for coming out strong to start the third quarter. Brandon Rush scored the first five points and eventually the Pacers would build a 10-point lead with seven minutes left in the quarter. From that point on, the Pacers struggled to make a field goal for the rest of the game. In fact, they didn't score a field goal fora 6:15 stretch of game time from the last 1:31 in the third quarter to 7:16 left in the fourth quarter. That's right, they went nearly five minutes to open the final quarter without a field goal.
- For the Celtics, Big Baby Davis and Marquis Daniels did all of the dirty work to first wipe out the Pacers lead and then to extend the Celtics lead. During a key stretch of the third quarter, Quisy absolutely tortured the Pacers with his classic mid-range game in the paint. For some reason, T.J. Ford was left guarding Quisy repeatedly with no adjustment. Everyone in the building knows that Quisy's bread-and-butter zone is that 5-to-10 foot game around the hoop with fakes and soft shots that stroll around the rim for a few bounces before going through the net. When he has it going he's tough to stop. Ford didn't have a chance yet he was stuck on Quisy until it was too late.
- Josh McRoberts started at power forward and played some solid defense early againts Kevin Garnett which earned him a return trip to the court and 23 minutes of playing time. McRoberts definitely falls into the high effort, not real smart or efficient camp in the second half. He got a little sloppy with the ball a few times trying to do too much.
- James Posey initially subbed for McRoberts but had no chance of guarding KG, so Foster would eventually have to play Garnett. Posey did knock down a couple of threes later in the game and in the first half even had a steal that led to a rare two-point layup as he finished the play at the other end.
- Mike Dunleavy came off the bench tonight and didn't get going before he and Nate Robinson knocked heads which left both bleeding and in need of stitches. Both would return but not before the Celtics seized the game.
- Looking for a positive, how about Brandon Rush getting to the free throw line and making 9 of 10 freebies. On more than one occasion, Rush made a strong drive to the hoop intent on drawing contact and a trip to the line.
- The Pacers now have a home-and-home with the Washington Wizards to close out the 2010 calendar year. Forget thoughts of taking both, they just really need to win the first one on Wednesday night. You know, take care of business.