Pacers stymied by Celtics with rematch on Monday at the Fieldhouse
The Pacers found out why the Celtics are the best team in the NBA to this point in the season. Can they adjust to find a winning formula on Monday?
All good things must come to an end.
After reeling of six consecutive wins, the Pacers good thing screeched to a halt when the Celtics rolled into the Fieldhouse on Saturday night and rolled out with a 118-101 win.
Actually, the Celtics just rolled down the street with the W since they will play at the Fieldhouse again on Monday night. With the top record in the league fueled by the No. 2 offense and No. 2 defense, the C’s are the best team in the league and they were dialed in to slow down the Pacers. And that they did.
Tyrese Haliburton had 17 points, 7 assists and 4 turnovers. If you’ve been following along, that’s not a good game for the Pacers leader. The C’s focused on him defensively with Jrue Holiday paying direct attention, trying to avoid helping no matter where Hali was standing. The Celtics also utilized a zone, mixing defensive looks to keep the Pacers off balance.
At the other end of the floor, Haliburton was put to work as the C’s worked to target him particularly with Jaylen Brown. The Celtics length is real and with both Bruce Brown and Andrew Nembhard out for the Pacers, the defensive options were more thin than usual for the Pacers.
Brown finished with 31 points which included four missed free throws and the veteran wing for the C’s teamed up with Jayson Tatum for a classic one-two punch. Tatum was unfair at times, finishing with 38 points, including an 8 for 13 effort from behind the arc. This is where the unfair part comes in. Tatum already shoots the three so easy, but pulling up even when well contested and draining the shot like he’s in pre-game warmups is a straight will killer for a team like the Pacers, hunting for stops to try to get a late run going.
The Pacers did remain in the hunt the whole game even after falling behind by double-digits and playing catchup the whole game. The good guys went to winning time down just three points, but a nearly three minute scoring drought let the Celtics methodically push the lead back to double digits as they simply put away the Pacers.
The Pacers did miss a lot of shots, making just 8 of 42 from three-land. This seemed to be a source of hope for Haliburton after the game, thinking many of those shots were good looks which allowed him to diminish the defensive impact the Celtics had on the Pacers O.
Hey, whatever works.
The Pacers will have another playoff-type opportunity to employ adjustments with the consecutive matchups. Making shots isn’t really an adjustment, but would surely help. Adding Brucie B and/or Nembhard would also help.
Of course, the Celtics lost Kristaps Porzingis in the first quarter after he was popped in the eye. He remains on the injury list, but there reports he expressed he was fine before leaving the Fieldhouse on Saturday. That’s more lethal length the Pacers may have to deal with as they try to level the season series with the Celtics.
Pacers celebrate the life of local legend, George McGinnis
On the Pacers off day, the Fieldhouse hosted a celebration of life for former George Washington Continental, IU Hoosier and Indiana Pacer, George McGinnis. The program put together by Pacers Sports & Entertainment allowed for the public to pay their respects to Big Mac who passed away on Dec. 14 due to cardiac arrest.
Where: Gainbridge Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN
When: Monday, Jan. 8, 2024, 7:00 p.m. ET
TV: Bally Sports
Radio: 93.5/107.5 The Fan
Pacers: Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield, Aaron Nesmith, Jalen Smith, Myles Turner
Celtics: Jrue Holiday, Derrick White, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Kristaps Porzingis
Pacers: Andrew Nembhard (sore back) - questionable, Bruce Brown (right knee) - questionable
Celtics: Kristaps Porzingis (eye irritation) - questionable, Jordan Walsh (G-League) - out
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