The continued inability to execute late has put the Indiana Pacers back into the loss column for a second straight game. If not for the opposing color schemes between the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors, it might be impossible to notice the difference in tonight’s loss to Boston and Wednesday’s loss to the Warriors.
- Against the Warriors in the fourth quarter, it was a 99-98 deficit. Against the Celtics in the fourth, it was a 98-97 deficit.
- It was a 7-0 Golden State run that took the game out of reach for the Pacers. It was a 6-0 Boston run tonight.
- The gutsy, spirited comeback the Pacers made in both were both halted on missed threes from role players, though tonight’s missed corner three from Justin Holiday turning into a made corner three from Daniel Theis after the Pacers had a chance to tie admittedly felt a lot worse.
Despite the similar conclusion, the Pacers did start extremely well tonight, however, scoring the first 12 of the game as part of an 18-4 run to open the night. They were 5-5 from three, led by Myles Turner, who had 13 in the opening quarter. From there, a cavalcade of Boston free throws allowed them to slowly chip away at the lead, erasing it completely by the end of the first quarter, leading 32-31.
From that point, the Celtics completely blew through Indiana’s zone defense, forcing the Pacers to spend much of the night playing catch-up. They would eventually take the lead on a Malcolm Brogdon layup, but their failure to get stops at the end of quarters allowed Jaylen Brown to put Boston back up on top 61-60 heading into the half.
The Boston lead got to double figures halfway through the third quarter, but a much needed 10-2 Indiana run cut the lead to two thanks to some big defensive minutes from Turner. Once he went out in favor of Jeremy Lamb, however, Boston took advantage, scoring on five of their last six third quarter possessions, pushing their lead back up to eight.
One of the biggest positives on the night was the emergence of Edmond Sumner playing well in his minutes tonight. Sumner helped bring life to the Pacers in the first half and in the fourth scored on and-one that featured another and-one from Lamb and an Aaron Holiday three, totaling a 9-0 run that brought the game to 98-97.
The 6-0 Celtics run out of that score turned into a nine point lead with under three minutes when the Pacers picked things up again. After they forced a turnover down 112-109, Domantas Sabonis drove into the paint and dished out to Justin for the perfect Justin shot: the wide open corner three.
When it didn’t fall, and a defensive breakdown gave Theis the exact same look on the other end that did, it all but ensured Indiana’s second straight loss, even after Sabonis responded with a bit of a circus three that took two bounces off the top of the backboard before falling in.
Defensively, the Pacers weren’t great, but did execute well enough in terms of limiting the effectiveness of Brown and Jayson Tatum. The All-Star duo combined for 26 points on 9-30 shooting. That being said, they had no answer for the Boston guards, allowing them to get wherever they wanted at all times on offense.
That manifested in Kemba Walker scoring a season high 32 points on 10-19 shooting, roasting the Pacers with tough jumpers for much of the night, but also in finding Theis for four of his six assists for 12 points. He and Jeff Teague also marched their way to the free throw line for 16 combined attempts.
For the Pacers, they’re not equipped to handle the types of night Walker had, especially when they can’t that same level of manufactured shot making themselves. The Pacers did, eventually, do a better job of working the Brogdon/Sabonis two-man game in the second half, finding much more success when both players moved on offense, often leading to an easy bucket, compared to simply dumping the ball off to Sabonis well out of the paint and hoping for the best.
Sabonis finished with 24 points and nine assists, flashing some excellent playmaking throughout the game. Outside of his production, the Pacers got a little bit from everybody, but just not enough from any one player to consistently open things up. Brogdon had just 12 points on 5-17 shooting, joining Turner and Doug McDermott with two made threes and a whole lot of missed ones.
The trio went 6-22 from deep on a night where the Pacers took more three point shots than two’s. Their 5-5 start quickly turned into 15-46, including some timely triples throughout the night, but not at a high enough clip to make the most of the shots they were given. Even J. Holiday, who was a team best 5-9 just couldn’t get that last one to go, as he finished with 19.
Turner had 17 points and 10 rebounds, rebounding well and helping the defense in stretches after his big offensive quarter. Off the bench, A. Holiday led the way with 15, but no one else reached double figures. Lamb finished with seven, while Sumner and McConnell each had six.
The Celtics did a good job taking away the interior all night, limiting the Pacers to just 32 points in the paint. They made six more threes, but still finished with seven fewer made shots. That is to say, the Pacers again just weren’t good enough. They just didn’t manufacture enough points, they just didn’t get the stops they needed to get as the familiar refrain continues.
The one thing this loss did do was completely shake up Indiana’s spot in the standings. Entering the game, they were 4th, but with the loss, they have currently fallen to 9th with a chance to be 8th at the end of the night. They can make a similar jump forward tomorrow if they can get back in the win column, facing the 6th place New York Knicks on the second night of a back-to-back on the road.