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Pacers Links: After blowing past Celtics, Pacers back home to face Sixers

Pacers turn vicious in the third quarter to mop up their first half mess and complete a 2-0 road trip. Now the Pacers return home and turn their attention turns to the Philadelphia 76ers.

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Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

The Pacers survived a bout of pretender level play in the first half before flashing their championship level defense and drubbing the Celtics in the second half on Friday.

While the Pacers weren't exactly on point in the first half defensively, the Celtics were also sizzling hot, making an array of shots that had nothing to do with bad defense, as Brad Stevens admitted after the game.

"But we hit some shots," Stevens said. "You know you bank one in at the end of the half and we had some shots go that were tough, tough shots. If you would've told me that we were going to shoot 51 percent against the Pacers tonight, I would've said, ‘We've got a chance to win.' And we do if we don't throw them the ball."

Boston donated 14 second-half turnovers and scored only eight points in the third quarter when the Pacers flipped the switch and smothered the C's defensively. After shooting 59% in the first half, the Celtics dropped down the 40% in the second half and lost control of the game to the Pacers quickly after the break.

All of the D, fueled the offense for the Pacers for a 55-point second half with Paul George scoring 22 of those points and of course, Lance Stephenson tripling the fun by doing a good bit of everything.

I'm quite confident the Pacers realize that come playoff time, they will have to play that champ-level defense from the tip but for now, the slow starts are the only negative to point to for the blue and gold. It was the reason they lost their only game, giving up 60 to the Bulls in the first half and digging way to big a hole to return from against a quality opponent. But the Pacers are now 11-1 and yeah, starting to make game-to-game assessments less important.

They have the goods and will be in the mix for a championship in the playoffs. Until then, enjoy the ride in the regular season.

Of course, one thing that can upset that long-range plan is a key injury or two. Last night, Derrick Rose left Chicago's loss at Portland after appearing to injure his knee. The severity is unknown this morning, but it shows how fragile this whole NBA marathon to a title can be.

Also, many thanks to the late-night comment folks in the game story who were reacting to Rose's injury in real time with the perfect tone of concern. No one wants Chicago to be without Rose this year, especially in the playoffs. If you are celebrating an opponents injury you have problems and I was happy not to see any of that this morning. Thanks.

On a lighter note, you gotta love this Tweet from Reggie Miller last night following the Pacers win.

Check out the links:

Pacers at Celtics - Box score

Game Rewind: Pacers 97 at Celtics 82 | THE OFFICIAL SITE OF THE INDIANA PACERS

How Larry Bird built the Pacers into a title contender - Indy Star\USA Today

Good Time to Come On Board | Pacers Blogs


Pacers top Celtics, move to 11-1 - Indy Star

Pacers prove too strong for Celtics, 97-82 | Comcast SportsNet -

Another Tough Opponent, Another Tough Loss: Celtics Drop Sixth Straight - CelticsBlog

George's 27 points lead Pacers over Celtics 97-82 - Celtics -

George's 27 points lead Pacers over Celtics 97-82 - AP

Celtics can’t keep up pace | Boston Herald

Pacers take over in 2nd half, smack Celtics - 1070 The Fan

First Thoughts: Pacers-Celtics - Indy Sports Legends

Frank Vogel backs Brad Stevens | Boston Herald

George, Indiana Pacers Race Past Boston Celtics in Second Half - CelticsBlog

Loss to Heat fuels George, Pacers' surge | Comcast SportsNet -

Derrick Rose injures right knee vs. Trail Blazers - Blog a Bull

Hawes' clutch three helps Sixers beat Bucks in OT | Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia

76ers-Pacers Preview - AP