The Indiana Pacers wrapped up a winning homestand in impressive fashion, taking it to the Boston Celtics and completing their biggest win since November in the process. It was a total team effort for the Pacers, featuring four 20-point scorers and over 50% shooting from three point range.
The Pacers were on point from the jump as Tyrese Haliburton put in back-to-back threes to give them an early lead. That would hold up until the final minutes of the quarter when Payton Pritchard hit a pair of triples for Boston to give them a 30-27 advantage after one. The threes would continue falling for Indiana in the second, with Oshae Brissett taking charge, hitting three straight to put them up seven.
Chris Duarte and Buddy Hield each pitched in from there, extending the lead out to double figures and Haliburton finished things off with a logo triple to cap a 39-point second quarter from the Pacers, giving them a healthy 66-55 lead heading into the half.
Indiana wrapped up the first half shooting 12-20 from three point range, a trend that would continue for Brissett especially, drilling two more threes to open the third quarter as the Pacers extended their lead out to 19 at 78-59. Things began to get a little chippy from that point, favoring the Celtics enough to cut the lead to nine midway through the period.
The Celtics would bring the score as close as seven late in the third when Haliburton broke up the 17-5 run with an incredible running hook shot, giving the Pacers enough of a boost to close out the quarter on a 10-6 run to tie the quarter and take a double digit lead into the fourth.
Though the Pacers did a good job responding to Boston’s run, the Celtics themselves were never able to find a consistent groove on the offensive end. Even as they were closing the gap, they were never able to zero in on that end of the floor enough to just put the hammer down on Indiana.
That would more or less continue into the fourth, but when Boston again made it a seven-point game, it was Hield’s turn to step into a pair of incredibly difficult shots, scoring seven to make it a 12-point game. Jalen Smith then put the capper on the win with a pair of threes midway through the fourth as Indiana ran it up in garbage time, getting a beautiful feed from Haliburton to Brissett followed up by an inbounds steal and layup by Duarte.
Indiana had guys step up throughout the game with seven guys reaching double figures, including the aforementioned four 20-point guys. Brissett led the way with 27, a season best, hitting six of nine from three point range. Brissett hit four in the opening half and two more early in the third, but also made his presence felt inside the arc as well, including a breakaway dunk courtesy of Goga Bitadze.
Haliburton was much more scoring oriented tonight, stepping into a pair of threes to open the game, scoring eight in the first quarter. He shot 8-12 from the floor, including 4-6 from three, but also did well as a playmaker, dishing nine assists. The three guard lineup, featuring some combination of Malcolm Brogdon, Haliburton, Hield, and Duarte worked exceptionally well, totaling all seven of Indiana’s steals on the night.
A pair of those came from Brogdon, interrupting passes into the paint, which led to two of Indiana’s 14 points off turnovers, a sizeable advantage that was propped up by their 20-10 fast break win. Brogdon broke down the Boston defense well by getting into the paint, scoring 10 of his 22 inside, stepping up for a pair of early triples as he scored 10 in the first quarter.
Hield’s movement also helped open things up for the Pacer offense, credited by Haliburton afterwards, as he finished with 21 points, six rebounds, and four assists. He shot 8-15 from the floor and though he was just 2-7 from deep, both extended their lead out to double figures, following up the second with a steal and finish at the rim.
One of the biggest differences of the night came in fouls called. The Pacers were whistled for 23 violations to Boston’s 13 and while it didn’t make any difference at the free throw line (both teams were 17-20), it did limit the run of both Isaiah Jackson and Bitadze, who each picked up four.
The path to the four fouls was different for each player, however, with Jackson scoring 11 with four boards and three blocks, throwing down a nice alley oop in the fourth after trying (and failing) to spread the alley oop love to Smith on a previous possession. Bitadze meanwhile had two points, five boards, and two assists and while parts of his game were as good as they’ve been in a minute, the overall performance was really the lone blemish on the night for the Pacers as he shuffled in and out all game, struggling to make contributions.
Smith meanwhile came alive in the fourth, getting the green light for a pair of big threes, finishing with 12 points and 10 rebounds, Indiana’s lone double double performer. He pulled in three offensive boards, leading to four of Indiana’s 14 second chance points on the night. Duarte joined Smith in double figures off the bench, scoring 11 in his return, picking up a pair of steals himself, joining in on the fun with a three pointer of his own.
The Pacers wrap up a 2-1 record at home as they hit the road for seven of nine on the road as Gainbridge Fieldhouse prepares itself for all of the madness March will bring. That will start with a four game trip that will begin with two straight games against the Orlando Magic, the first of which coming tomorrow night before wrapping up on Wednesday.