Boston Celtics: 2012Game8

Rapid Reaction: Pacers 87, Celtics 74

January, 6, 2012
Elsa/Getty ImagesKevin Garnett and the Celtics struggled to get going early vs. the Pacers and never caught up.
BOSTON -- Rapid reaction after the Indiana Pacers defeated the Boston Celtics 87-74 Friday night at TD Garden:

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.

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).

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.

3-on-3: Celtics vs. Pacers (Game 8 of 66)

January, 6, 2012
Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty ImagesPaul Pierce and the Boston Celtics welcome the Indiana Pacers Friday night.
Riding a four-game winning streak, the Boston Celtics (4-3, 3-0 home) welcome the Indiana Pacers (4-2, 2-2 away) to TD Garden Friday night (7:30 p.m., CSN). We go 3-on-3 with ESPN Boston's Greg Payne and CelticsHub's Brendan Jackson to preview the tilt:

1. Fact or fiction. The Pacers will finish ahead of the Celtics in the East.

Payne: Fiction. The Pacers will finish higher in the East than they have in recent seasons, but the C's are finally starting to get their collective act together, and I firmly expect them to leapfrog a host of teams currently sitting higher in the standings -- Indiana included.

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.

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Jeff Green
16.9 1.7 0.7 34.2
ReboundsJ. Sullinger 8.1
AssistsR. Rondo 9.8
StealsR. Rondo 1.3
BlocksB. Bass 0.9