INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- After watching the Boston Celtics wrestle
inside and questioning their ability to fight, Doc Rivers changed
He used a small lineup Saturday to get the Indiana Pacers out of
sync. Brilliant move.
Paul Pierce finished with 30 points, seven rebounds, eight
assists and five blocked shots, and Ricky Davis broke out of a
shooting slump with 15 points to lead the Celtics to a 110-79 rout
of the Pacers in Game 4, tying the first-round series.
"When we play good defense, we're a good basketball team, no
doubt about it," Rivers said. "We pressured the ball and denied
catches all game."
It was just what the Celtics needed with the odds stacked
Playing on the road without suspended Antoine Walker, facing the
possibility of going two games down in the best-of-seven series and
with Indiana fans waving their white towels in unison, the Celtics
refused to surrender.
Instead, they return to Boston for Game 5 having played one of
their best games of the season.
Boston shot 56.8 percent from the field, 53.8 percent from
3-point range, limited the dangerous shooting Pacers to an NBA
playoff record low of 26.9 percent from the field and handed
Indiana its worst playoff loss since it joined the NBA in 1976-77.
Indiana's worst previous defeat was 24 points to Orlando on June
4, 1995 in the seventh game of the Eastern Conference finals.
And it was every bit as ugly as the scoreboard and stat sheet
made it appear. Only three Pacers reached double figures -- Stephen
Jackson with 24 points, Reggie Miller with 12 and James Jones with
Boston, in contrast, had all five starters score at least 11
points, led by Pierce, who shot 10-for-15 from the field and scored
23 points in the first half.
But it was the Celtics' quick defenders that dominated the game.
"Their sheer athleticism really got us," Pacers coach Rick
Carlisle said. "They played this well without Walker. If they had
played with Walker, it may have been worse, who knows."
The Celtics spent Game 3 trying to rough up Pacers All-Star
Jermaine O'Neal, which set off tempers. This time, Rivers started
three guards and Pierce, a 6-foot-6 forward, to turn up the
pressure on Indiana.
Carlisle expected it, but the Celtics made the strategy work.
"We said 'Lets treat this game like an elimination game,' "
Pierce said. "We did, and now we've got the momentum back."
Indiana's biggest problem wasn't only O'Neal's sore right
shoulder. It was foul trouble, poor shot selection and an offense
that never dictated the tempo. The result: Indiana shot just 31
percent in the first half and was even worse in the second half. It
was even worse than the 27.5 percent -- their previous low -- they
shot against on May 24, 2004.
Only four Pacers scored in the first quarter and only two --
O'Neal and Jackson -- hit more than one basket. Each had two.
That was the opening Boston needed to climb back into the
"Doc made some great lineup adjustments," Carlisle said.
"They wanted to bring speed to the game, and they really blew by
us right from the beginning almost until the very end."
Leading 17-13 midway through the first quarter, the Celtics
prevented Indiana from making another basket the rest of the
quarter. They took advantage by jumping to a 31-20 lead and never
Every time it looked as though Indiana might rally, Boston had
Miller's second 3-pointer, early in the second quarter, made it
Then Pierce took over. He scored 15 points in the second
quarter, thwarting the Pacers run single-handedly. Boston led by as
much as 52-38 before a last-minute scoring flurry and Miller's
buzzer-beating 3-pointer got Indiana within 56-47 at halftime.
In the second half, the Pacers made one charge with some help
from an unlikely source -- Jones. The backup forward hit a
3-pointer, then took a charge, hit another 3 and made one of two
free throws to get the Pacers within 58-56 with 7:49 left.
This time, the Celtics re-established control with a 9-0 run and
extended the lead to 78-60 with 1:16 left in the third quarter.
The Pacers never challenged again, benching their starters for
the final 6 minutes.
"We were just hoping to fight them off by going small and
waiting for them to come back," Davis said. "We wanted to just
jump on them."
Indiana lost for just the sixth time in its last 22 home
games. ... Boston outscored Indiana in the paint 48-22. ... The
Celtics shot 7-for-13 from 3-point range after going just 6-of-25
in their previous two games combined. ... Delonte West started in
place of Walker and scored 14 points, most in the fourth quarter,
but spent much of the game in foul trouble. ... The teams combined
to shoot 62 free throws as the officials called 55 fouls.