Victor Oladipo was THEE star of the Pacers win over Boston after drilling a three-pointer to put the Pacers up with four seconds remaining and then making an equally impressive defensive play, locking up Kyrie Irving and then bursting to the ball when Gordon Hayward tried to pass to Jayson Tatum.
The story of the night were the heroics Oladipo delivered once, again with the W on the line. His locker surrounded by media following the game made that obvious. But it took a full team effort for the Pacers to battle the full 48 against a deep and talented Boston team to make sure they were in position to win the game in the final three minutes.
Vic’s play in the final three minutes of the game took a pedestrian Oladipo outing and made it magnificent. Yep, recording a 14-point, 10-reb double-double midway through the third quarter has become ho hum for Oladipo. He struggled shooting up to that point, making just 2 of 10 3-point shots. Also, had five assists for the game.
What I’m trying to say is, Victor was incredible but he needed help to have chance to be the hero. So here’s a nod to the supporting cast that set up the grand finale.
- Bojan Bogdanovic rose up at two points in the game to do some heavy lifting and keep the Pacers on the winning track. First, as the Celtics came out after the half ready to attack, and Bogey helped the Pacers keep pace, scoring 10 of his 16 points in the first half of the third quarter. But Bogey’s biggest bucket came late in the fourth when he kept hope alive, answering a Jaylen Brown three with a three-pointer of his own to give the Pacers a 95-94 lead with just under two minutes left in the game. Oladipo took it home from there.
- Evans closed the third quarter with a three-ball to tie the game and ten started the fourth quarter with seven points, including another three-pointer as part of the epic fourth quarter that saw a high level of effort and play from both teams. Tyreke’s patient pick n’ roll game with Domas Sabonis remained a pleasure to watch as they kept the C’s bulldog defender, Marcus Smart working his tail off. That patience in the pick n’ roll has been a nice revelation of Tyreke’s game. At times, he’s like a running back waiting for a hole to develop before bursting through, in this case passing or taking it to the rim.
- Cory Joseph did normal CoJo stuff and found himself on the court at the most critical moments and for the most critical defensive play for the Pacers. With 1 points and 2 assists, McMillan didn’t have Joseph in there for his offense. Instead, his size and strength were on display on the defensive end. While Kyrie got loose for a game clinching layup he later lamented blowing, Joseph’s size and strength force Irving to alter his shot and body in the process. He also fought through a back screen on the final play of the game to recover and allow Oladipo to leave Kyrie and steal the inbounds pass.
- Myles Turner finished the game with 12 points and 6 rebounds and put forth a strong effort in the first half as the Pacers were forced to rally from an early double-digit deficit. Tuner had 8 points and 5 rebounds at the break with the game tied at 45. After a missed shot and missed defensive assignment in the fourth quarter, Turner reluctantly went to the bench when Domas Sabonis replaced him. Mark Montieth reported on Turner admitting he wasn’t happy but was more interested in the team winning.
- Sabonis continued his solid and consistent play battling Boston’s bigs much of the night. For a stretch in the second half, Sabonis and Aaron Baynes engaged in a physical sequence at both ends of the floor. The Boston vet, trying to get under the young fella’s skin. Bruises were delivered both ways but Sabonis didn’t give an inch. He also delivered 8 points and 4 rebounds in the deciding fourth quarter.
Honestly, this was one of the best regular season games I can remember witnessing. Both teams played so hard and down the stretch, so well. Did you see Oladipo and Marcus Smart chasing down that long pass late in the fourth quarter? They were both running through any brick wall in their way to get that ball. What a pleasure, made much more fun by Oladipo bringing home the win, thanks to a little help from his teammates.
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