Posted on February 10, 2018, by Travis Pulver
There has been a pattern to some of the Boston Celtics games in recent weeks. They get blown out in the first half. But manage to come out strong in the second and steal the win. For a while, it appeared as if that was exactly what was going to happen against the Indiana Pacers Friday night. But Victor Oladipo, Myles Turner and the rest of the Pacers had a different outcome in mind.
The Pacers got off to a hot start by blowing the Celtics out in the first quarter, 30-16. It didn’t get out of hand until late in the quarter when the Pacers went on 12-2 to go up by 16 with 1:46 to go.
It didn’t get any better for the Celtics in the second. Five turnovers led to eight points for the Pacers. Boston continued to struggle to make shots. After hitting just 23.1 percent in the first, they hit eight of 22 to finish the half shooting 29.2 percent.
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Boston trailed by as much as 26 during the second but ended going into halftime down 21 points, 59-38.
While it appeared to be a daunting task, it was a familiar one for the Celtics. They have made a habit of being down big at the end of the first half. But they have made epic comebacks before; surely, they can do so again—right?
A 14-7 run by the Celtics to start the third pulled Boston to within 14 with 8:44 to play in the quarter. Indiana stemmed the tide for about a minute and edged the lead back out to 18-points, 70-52, following an 18-footer by Victor Oladipo.
But then Boston closed out the half on a 20-6 run to pull within four heading into the fourth, 76-72. Terry Rozier punctuated the quarter with a 35-foot buzzer beater.
Indiana succeeded in fighting off Boston for the first half of the final quarter. But then Al Horford tied the game up at 80-80 with 5:24 to go. They traded the lead back and forth for a couple of minutes until a late 7-0 run by the Pacers put Indiana up 91-85 with 1:37 to play.
Kyrie Irving pulled the Celtics within four, 95-91, with 28.6 seconds to play. But Boston would not score again. Pacers forward Thaddeus Young hit a pair of free throws to close out the scoring and make the final, 97-91.
“We did a great job of just calming down, especially when they took the lead. We just did a great job of making stops down the stretch,” Oladipo said after the game (ESPN).
Oladipo led the way for Indiana with 35 points, ten rebounds, and five steals. Myles Turner had 19 points, and Thaddeus Young chipped in a double-double with 13 points and 14 rebounds. Kyrie Irving led the Celtics with 21 points followed by Jaylen Brown with 16.
After the game, Irving was complimentary of his team but gave credit where it was due (ESPN):
“We had no reason to be in that game. [But] we fought back. We battled back, but they came out and just really hit us in the mouth in the first half.”
The loss was the second in three games but just the third in the last ten for Boston. But going forward, Kyrie Irving knows the Celtics need to get their offensive struggles figured out (ESPN):
“Just got to be unwavering in your approach. Our attention to detail just has to be that much better, and that’s going to demand more from me, from Brad, from Al [Horford], the leaders on the team, stick together on the same page.”
With the loss, Boston is now the No. 2 seed in the East, a half-game behind the Toronto Raptors. His Celtics will have a challenge on their hands Sunday afternoon when they take on the new look Cleveland Cavaliers.
The win improved Indiana’s record to 31-25. If the playoffs were to start, they would be the No. 6 seed. But going forward, they can’t afford to slip; they only have a three-game lead on the No. 9-seed, the Detroit Pistons.