Posted on March 12, 2018, by Travis Pulver
The Indiana Pacers have not been a great road team this season. Entering Sunday’s game against the Celtics in Boston, they were 15-16 on the road. Boston, on the other hand, was 23-11 at home. With the playoffs right around the corner, Pacers fans would love to have reason to believe their guys can be a playoff caliber team on the road.
So, the team gave the fans a reason to believe with a win in Boston over the Celtics.
It certainly didn’t look good for the Pacers early on. They struggled to hit their shots in the first quarter making only 36 percent. But thankfully, the Celtics failed to take advantage, and Boston only had a one-point lead after the first. The struggled continued in the second as Celtics stretched the lead out to ten-points, 50-40, at halftime.
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If Indiana was going to get back in the game, they at least needed Victor Oladipo to contribute more. But they also needed more from everyone else. Oladipo led the team with just seven points at the break. It would help if something could break in Indiana’s favor, but it wouldn’t matter if Oladipo couldn’t find his shot.
As luck would have it, the Pacers did get a break. Kyrie Irving did not return to the game in the second half due to soreness in his left knee. Boston was already playing without Al Horford and Jaylen Brown. Losing Irving as well would be hard to overcome.
Indiana came out firing in the third quarter. They managed to erase the deficit a few minutes in and even took the lead, 59-57 when Oladipo made a layup with 6:06 to go. They were able to stretch their lead out to six points before settling for a 74-70 advantage heading into the fourth.
The Pacers stretched their lead out to nine-points early in the quarter but were unable to put the Celtics away. Jayson Tatum tied the game up with a pair of free throws with 36.5 seconds to play. But a Myles Turner layup followed by a pair of free throws by Oladipo gave Indiana a 99-95 lead with 10.4 seconds to play—which is when things nearly got interesting.
Jayson Tatum pulled the Celtics within two-points with 1.9 seconds to play. At this point, it should have been game over. But then Oladipo commits an offensive foul and Boston has a chance at a buzzer beater.
However, Terry Rozier was unable to connect, so the Pacers won, 99-97.
“We talk about being calm, and being poised,” said Indiana head coach Nate McMillan (ESPN). “Everybody was flying to move quickly, and it almost cost us. We got the stop at the end, but we have to continue to grow.”
After scoring just seven points in the first half, Oladipo finished the night with 27 points. Myles Turner chipped in a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Marcus Smart led the Celtics with 20 points followed by Jayson Tatum with 19.
The Celtics will have a couple of days before they take the court again (Washington comes to town on Wednesday). With how he sounded after the game, they may be doing so without Kyrie Irving (ESPN):
“I’m not concerned. Where we are in the season, I’m pretty comfortable. I think that competitively, I think that’s more or less what I’m concerned about. When I actually do get back on the floor, I want to feel the level I expect myself to be at and I want to play at and being able to sustain it. Right now, I’m not able to do that. I just got to do that.”
Indiana will face the 76ers in Philadelphia Tuesday night.