There were far fewer late game thrills tonight between the Indiana Pacers and Boston Celtics, but it did have the same conclusion as the Pacers drop both games in their home and home series against Boston. Indiana was run off the floor in the second half, getting outscored 33-22 in the third after having worked themselves back into the game with a strong close to the second quarter.
That second quarter run, a 10-2 stretch to close out the half, was fueled by defensive activity, forcing Boston into numerous mistakes, including three turnovers. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to bring that into the start of the third as the Celtics scored the first eight of the half to more or less put the game away.
That four minute run was more or less the only positive stretch of the night for Indiana, with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown hitting six first quarter threes to put the Celtics up double figures heading into the second. Brown’s play continued into the second, with back-to-back threes extending Boston’s lead out to a then game high 14. Those would prove to be the salad days as Dennis Schroder joined the party, extending Boston’s lead out to 19 in the third and another series of back-to-back triples from Brown raised the white flag for Indiana, pushing the lead out to 22.
The difference on the scoreboard was largely made up from a complete difference in shooting between the two teams. Boston made 18 threes, 15 of those coming between Brown, Tatum, and Schroder, while Indiana were a staggeringly bad 7-36. The Pacers did hold a 20-point advantage in the paint, but losing by eight at the free throw line minimized a good chunk of that, especially with Indiana missing seven.
Malcolm Brogdon and Caris LeVert returned to action tonight, but there wasn’t much to speak of with either. Brogdon would play just 17 minutes before reaggravating his sore achilles. LeVert meanwhile had some flashes, finishing with 16 points and four assists, but would be caught in a lot of really questionable defensive positions.
With Tatum and Brown combining for 67 points, it’s not ideal that LeVert was just two off Indiana’s game high scorer, going to Myles Turner with 18. Turner was wildly effective inside, going 8-9 and working extremely well around the basket, but foul trouble limited his run and his three point shot continues to be well off, missing all five of his attempts.
Domantas Sabonis was more effective scoring tonight, finishing with 17 on 7-11 from the floor. Unfortunately, his best stretch, six points in Indiana’s 10-2 run to close the third, was the only stretch of the night where he was really taking it to the Celtics. His layup to start the fourth was his only field goal of the second half.
Justin Holiday was the fourth and final double figure scorer for the Pacers, hitting three threes to finish with 13. Off the bench, Oshae Brissett was the brightest spot of the night for the Pacers, leading the bench with eight points and nine rebounds, including a monster block in transition against Josh Richardson.
With guys back, that meant less time for Duane Washington Jr. and Keifer Sykes in particular, who alongside Isaiah Jackson and Goga Bitadze, combined for 12 (of 13 total) in the final four minutes to cheekily drop the final score under 20.
The Pacers have started a new losing streak with tonight’s loss, one that could go on for quite a while if their upcoming opposition is any indication. Indiana hosts the league best Phoenix Suns on Friday before heading out West for five games, where they’ll be looking for their first road win since November.