The Celtics were playing their fifth game since Sunday, but it was the Pacers who looked like the fatigued team despite their week at home with an off-day between games. Shots were short all night as the front rim took a beating when the misses weren't wide left or simply air balls.
A valiant comeback effort down the stretch couldn't save the day this time. The Pacers were down 12 midway through the fourth quarter when a C.J. Watson three started a run that saw the Pacers draw as close as four. They had a chance to cut it to two but the result was a shot-clock violation with no shot attempt.
That kind of night.
The Pacers shot 36% in the first half and had to feel lucky to only be down eight points after scoring just 37. The expected third-quarter burst tightened the game up, but when they needed the over-the-hump bucket...boing...more front iron while the Celtics did their part to keep a multi-possession separation on the scoreboard.
Early on it was Tyler Zeller and then in the second half, Avery Bradley and Brandon Bass came to life. Yep, Zeller, Bradley and Bass had enough for the Pacers on this night. Should have known on Semi-State Saturday in Indiana that a Zeller would shine. Tyler led his Washington Hatchets to a title at the Fieldhouse and he looked comfy scoring Boston's first three points. Zeller finished with 18 points and seven rebounds.
Fellow Hoosier, George Hill led the Pacers with 30 points and eight assists, but he didn't have enough help.
The only thing harder than winning seven NBA games in a row is winning eight and the Pacers felt that truth from the opening tip.