Boston Celtics: 2012Game8
HOW THE GAME WAS WON
The Pacers put six players in double figures, including a pair of reserves, paced by 15 points from Danny Granger (despite his 3-of-14 shooting). In fact, the only Indiana starter not in double figures was David West, the player the Celtics nearly acquired in a sign-and-trade last month, before he agreed to a two-year deal with the Pacers. Ray Allen, returning to the lineup after sitting out Wednesday's game due to illness, fueled Boston's lifeless offense, scoring a team-high 23 points on 7-of-11 shooting, including connecting on 4-of-5 trifectas. Paul Pierce had one of the most cringeworthy shooting efforts of his career, producing 10 points on 3-of-17 shooting, though he added seven rebounds, three assists, and a steal over 37 minutes.
The Celtics were down nine early in the third frame and four times trimmed to a one-possession game, but simply couldn't get over the hump. Nursing a two-point lead with 4:50 to go in the quarter, the Pacers embarked on a little 6-0 burst, fueled by a pair of jumpers by Darren Collison, to erase all the ground the Celtics had made up.
STAT OF THE GAME
The Celtics matched a franchise record by scoring a mere 25 points in the first half. Boston was a mere 9-of-34 shooting overall (26.5 percent) and trailed by eight at the break. The Celtics erupted for 30 third-quarter points, but couldn't dent their deficit as the Pacers matched their output (aided by seven second-chance points in the frame). Boston shot a mere 39.4 percent overall (26 of 66).
WHAT IT MEANS
The Celtics suffered their first home loss of the season and had their four-game winning streak snapped. Having feasted on the some of the league's weakest squads (Washington twice, Detroit, and New Jersey), the Celtics have now dropped three games to potential Eastern Conference playoff squads (Miami, New York, and Indiana). It's fair to be concerned, even if there's a long way to go before the postseason. Boston now endures a four-day break before its next game and will get some much, much, much-needed practice time before hosting the Mavericks on Wednesday night.
1. Fact or fiction. The Pacers will finish ahead of the Celtics in the East.
Jackson: Fiction. The Pacers were the sexy preseason team in the East given the addition of David West and the expected growth of guys like Darren Collison and Paul George. The truth is that the Pacers are much like the Atlanta Hawks, Portland Trailblazers, and Denver Nuggets. They have a great collection of role players and some All-Stars but no bona fide superstar (we can talk about LaMarcus Aldridge another time). There is no one the Pacers can definitively point to in crunch time to make the right decision. Danny Granger will take the last shot for you, he just might be quadrupled teamed and the shot will most likely be a long 3.
Forsberg: Fiction. The way some make it sound this is some sort of slam dunk fact. Check out Indiana's schedule so far. Barely getting by Toronto? Overtime win over Cleveland? Losing to Detroit? I think the Pacers will indeed be a middle seed in the East this season and even Doc Rivers said there was a chance the Celtics could see them in the postseason (a 4-5 matchup?) But I agree with you guys. Nothing suggests to me that the Pacers are ready to leapfrog Boston ... not yet anyway.
Play Podcast The ESPN Boston High School football crew previews the 2014 high school football season.
Play Podcast ESPN NFL reporter Field Yates covers expectations for Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots' outlook, LeSean McCoy's injury and Alex Smith's contract negotiations with the Chiefs.
Play Podcast Buster Olney and Justin Havens discuss how teams that made major deals have fared since the deadline. Plus, Cubs GM Jed Hoyer on the strange circumstances caused by weather.