Posted on December 18, 2017, by Travis Pulver
The Celtics may not be the team they were last year or thanks to injuries, the team fans hoped they would be this year. But they are still one of the more talented, well-coached teams in the NBA. Indiana is a better team than many expected with Paul George leaving town, but are they good enough to hang with a big dog like Boston?
Hang with them—yes. But beat them—almost, but not quite.
Boston has played well in Indianapolis and certainly got off to a fast start this time. The Celtics hit their first ten shots of the game and didn’t miss until Jaylen Brown missed a three-pointer about eight minutes into the game. They ended up hitting 70 percent of their shots in the first and led 38-21 heading into the second period.
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It was the most Indiana had allowed in the first quarter this season and their largest first-quarter deficit as well. Shooting only 39 percent didn’t help, and they didn’t record a single assist either.
But the Pacers appeared to get their act together in the second quarter. The offense cleaned up its act a little and managed to get within nine. But they were down 62-47 at the break.
The Celtics helped fuel the turnaround with six turnovers in the second quarter after committing just one in the first. However, when the third period began, it quickly became apparent the Celtics had a larger issue on their hands than too many turnovers.
Victor Oladipo was a man on a mission. He got the comeback rolling in the third quarter with 16-points. Boston lent a helping hand with eight turnovers. When the quarter ended, the Pacers were only down by seven, 85-78.
Oladipo and the Pacers kept the pressure on in the final period. They took their first lead of the game 105-102 after Oladipo hit a three-pointer with 53 seconds left to play. He stretched the lead out to five seconds later with a four-foot shot. When Kyrie Irving hit a 28-footer with ten seconds to play, the Pacers lead was cut to one, 111-110.
That’s when things got really crazy. Celtics guard Terry Rozier talked about the play after the game (NESN):
“We go into this diamond defense, with Kyrie (Irving) and (Marcus) Smart on the first trap,” he said, as seen on NBC Sports Boston’s Celtics postgame coverage. “Smart was trying to yell, ‘I’m fouling, I’m fouling,’ but the ref never called it. Then he (Cory Joseph) threw it to (Bogan) Bogdanovic and Shane (Larkin) ran over there and he threw one more and I got the read because it was so high in the air. I was kind of like a defensive back and I got to get the steal and the dunk.”
With Rozier’s dunk, the Celtics secured the win, 112-111.
Despite scoring 12 of his 38 points in the final two minutes of the game, Oladipo was unable to lead the Pacers to a win. After the game, he had this to say (IndyStar):
“It’s a tough loss, a tough tough loss. It was just a crazy game.”
Boston head coach Brad Stevens was appreciated that his team came out of such an intense game on the right side of the scoreboard.
“We’re fortunate to win,” said Stevens (IndyStar). “That was a great effort by them. I’ve been on both sides of this, and it’s a hard one to swallow, I’m sure.”
The loss drops the Pacers to 17-14 on the season. They play next on Wednesday against the Hawks in Atlanta. Boston improved to 26-7 and also play next on Wednesday when they host Miami.