A 9-0 start for the Brooklyn Nets set an ominous tone for the Indiana Pacers in their home finale. They managed to close the gap on a 12-2 run, but that push unfortunately proved to be the highlight of the game for the Pacers. Across the game, Indiana was just not up to the task of keeping up with Brooklyn’s effort, and that was the difference as the Nets played a step quicker to loose balls and more importantly, rebounds.
The Nets shot worse than the Pacers, but it didn’t matter on the back of their 17 offensive rebounds. It was part of a night when Indiana was blown out on the boards 52-33. That little extra step helped Brooklyn to win the first three quarters as well, all between 2-6 points. The third in particular showed just how within reach the game was, but an inability to get stops just continuously kept it out of reach.
Coupled with the loss to Boston, that could be an issue when the Playoffs start next week. Indiana got just one stop after a made basket in the third, surrendering a 30-point quarter, the second of the game. The Pacers made a brief push in the fourth, but were unable to climb any closer than 10, another inability to get stops keeping them away from truly threatening Brooklyn.
For a second straight game, no one on the Pacers was really able to take up the scoring load necessary to overcome this kind of effort and rebounding gap, surrendering the top three scorers in the game to Brooklyn. Domantas Sabonis led the way with 17 points and 12 rebounds, completing his 30th double double of the season.
No one else had any more than four boards, including Thaddeus Young, who brought some much needed energy early in the third as part of his 16 points, but with just two rebounds and four turnovers. Indiana did win a close turnover battle, but whatever success they found in scoring off of those, they gave right back, winning 17-13 in that area. They also only edged the Nets 13-9 in fast break points, which again didn’t give Indiana enough of an edge where they were also outscored from the free throw line 17-4.
Only four Pacers reached double figures, with Bojan Bogdanovic scoring 13 points on 5-11 shooting and Cory Joseph breaking out of his shooting slump with 12 on 5-9. Darren Collison returned to action, but shot poorly at 2-12 and was gassed quickly, his extra minutes in the first quarter providing an extra boost to the Nets. Myles Turner had six points on 2-5 shooting with three blocks, suffering a slight ankle injury in the third quarter to boot. As there was no reason for him to return, he did not.
The Pacers finish 29-12 on the year at home, but continue piling on losses overall, dropping them to 7-15 after a high water mark of 40-20 in late February. Today’s loss guarantees the Pacers a fifth seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs, setting up a rest-heavy season finale against the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday.