BOSTON -- Truth be told, the 3-pointer that stuck in Brad Stevens' craw wasn't the one that referees took away, but the one his team allowed Paul George to make with 76 seconds remaining in a one-possession game.
The Celtics and Pacers were tied at 90 when Rajon Rondo banked in a late-clock 3-pointer with 4:37 to play. Referees signaled to review the play, but that wouldn't come until the next stoppage two minutes later. When the referees determined the shot came after the shot clock expired, it left the Pacers out front 94-90.
Two free throws from Jared Sullinger pulled the Celtics within two, but the Pacers called timeout and George hit a 3-pointer for a 97-92 lead with 1:16 to play.
"It let the pressure off of [Indiana]," Sullinger said of the overturned 3-pointer. "They had a lot of pressure, and that kind of let them sit back. They were playing frantic when the score was like that."
Across the hall, Indiana coach Frank Vogel playfully celebrated the referees' decision.
"I love instant replay," deadpanned Vogel. "Just a big fan of it, always have been -- except for those couple of times where it went against us where I hated it. But tonight, it worked for us."
Stevens refused to use the overturned bucket as an excuse for not being able to pull out the win.
"You know, the biggest play of the game was they ran a nice little action that they run for Paul George quite often -- not quite often, probably once, maybe twice, a game -- and they didn’t run it before, and they just set a nice little cross-screen/down-screen with good movement before that, and he made a big shot," explained Stevens. "And that’s why he is who he is. He gets that chance, and you give a guy like that a chance, and you just know it’s not going to end well."
Echoed Rondo: "I don’t think it changed momentum. We were still only down four. They came out of the timeout and Paul George hit a big 3. The end of the game, we have to find a way to get stops. Regardless, I think we went 1-for-10 in the last five minutes. We have to start priding ourselves on defense and find a way to get stops. We knew they were going to Paul George or David West, and we just have to do a better job of containing them."
Stevens, an Indianapolis native, hasn't shied from the fact that he was a Pacers fan growing up (and, well, straight up until he became the head coach of the Celtics). He noted before Saturday's game that he likely owned a Reggie Miller jersey growing up, and he knows for sure his son, Brady, owns one now, even if it doesn't get much use.
"Now he won’t even wear it, won’t even think about wearing it," Stevens explained. "I try to tell him it’s OK, like in the summer, to throw it on occasionally, but he’s so Celtics geared out right now, he’s pretty bought into the whole thing, which is good."
Stevens, who has joked in the past that the Pacers waited until he joined the Celtics to field one of their best teams in franchise history, was asked if he remembered wanting to be Miller growing up.
"Oh yeah, any kid growing up in that state," Stevens said. "When I was a kid, growing through the '80s, and [Indiana University] going to two national championships and winning them, Purdue being as good as they were, and just down the landscape of high school and college basketball. Then, Reggie enters the picture in the late '80s, and that whole '90s run was unbelievable. So, yeah, everybody growing up there had a Reggie Miller shirt or a Pacers shirt, but we all loved Reggie Miller. There’s no question about that."
Loose balls: Sloan notes
• Ainge in the rafters?: Boston Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck appeared at the 2014 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference on Saturday and, while discussing the impact Danny Ainge has had on the franchise, said he could be headed to retirement row. "I plan to put [Ainge's No. 44] in the rafters someday," Grousbeck said. "He's done a great job for us." Ainge was a part of two championship squads during his playing days in Boston, then served as architect of Boston's 2008 title team in his current role as president of basketball operations.
• Rather be in the crowd: Stevens and Celtics assistant general manager Mike Zarren joined Bryan Colangelo, Stan Van Gundy and Steve Kerr on a Basketball Analytics panel on Friday. Asked about his first Sloan experience, Stevens noted, "It was great [but] I would have much preferred to listen than be on a panel. I would actually enjoy it if it were in the summer and I could take the time just to spend two or three days and listen to everybody talking. It’s neat to hear the different opinions on things. There are a lot of other panels and a lot of other subjects that I would have been very interested in as well." Quipped Stevens: "I’ve been fortunate enough to know Stan Van Gundy, but I’d pay to hear him talk every day of the week. He’s great."