End of game, Pacers win 87-74: Burn the tape of this one. There's not a lot the Celtics can glean from this one, and even if they do, the bad memories probably aren't worth it.
The Celtics scored 49 points in the second half and still lost by 13, which just about says it all.
That won't stop us from saying more, though. The Celtics shot 39 percent from the field, their second-worst shooting performance of the season, and gave out just 16 assists, tying a season low. (Both previous lows came against the Hornets on Dec. 28, when they shot 37 percent.)
Led by Roy Hibbert's 12 rebounds and David West's 10, and helped by Tyler Hansbrough and Jeff Foster's relentlessness off the bench, the Pacers outrebounde the Celtics 47-36. That disparity was even worse until the Celtics jumped of a few garbage time rebounds.
The Pacers mounted an incredibly even offensive attack, with five players scoring in double figures. Forward Danny Granger shot 3-of-14 but led the way with 15 points. As expected with two teams that are conservative with their field goal attempts, Indiana put up 79 shots to the Celtics' 66.
Ray Allen continued to defy the belief that he is a normal person by scoring 23 points on 7-of-11 shooting and 5-of-6 shooting from downtown, all despite flu-like symptoms. Paul Pierce scored 10 points and never seemed to get his stroke, hitting just three of 17 attempts and missing all but one of his 3-point attempts.
Rajon Rondo had 11 points and nine assists. He, too, couldn't find the bottom of the net. He shot 5-of-12 from the field and 1-of-4 from the line. The official box score claims he only had two turnovers, but that sounds fishy; he was credited with two turnovers at the beginning of the fourth quarter, and he made two careless passes that led to turnovers in the fourth.
The Celtics get four days until their next game, which is Wednesday against the Dallas Mavericks. By the looks of this game, they need all the rest they can get.
Fourth quarter, 1:32, Pacers 82-70: For the first time since he's become a Celtic, Bass' midrange jump shot stopped falling. He missed another one, off an inbounds pass along the left baseline, to fall to 2-for-6 from the field. He currently has five points, which would be a season low, and four rebounds, which would be his lowest total in three games.
Collison drilled a 3, and the patrons began their stream for the exits.
Fourth quarter, 2:48, Pacers 77-70: O'Neal played a strong game defensively for more than 3 1/2 quarters, committing just three personal fouls, but he may have gotten fatigued in the late going.
O'Neal committed a pair of painful fouls to extend Pacers possessions. His pushing foul underneath on Hibbert let Indiana off the hook with the shot clock ticking down, and his foul trying to block a dunk attempt wiped out what may have been a charge drawn by Rondo. Rondo argued the call vehemently, surprising since the Celtics point guard already has a technical foul.
Fourth quarter, 5:15, Pacers 75-66: Hansbrough, Hibbert, West and Foster have given the Celtics huge problems on the glass, with Indiana's advantage growing to 44-31. As often happens when games get out of hand, Rondo tried to do way too much on a series of plays, including a wild bounce pass on the break to Bass' ankles.
Ray knocked down another jumper but it didn't make much of a dent in the deficit.
Fourth quarter, 8:54, Pacers 70-60: Ray came to play early in the fourth, but suddenly the Pacers just can't seem to miss.
Allen split the defense for a layup to open the final 12 minutes, then answered a jump shot by Hill with a 3 to pull the Celtics within 65-60. Foster, still working hard with Hansbrough on the offensive glass, gobbled up a miss and scored for a seven-point Indiana lead. Hill drilled a jumper, later changed to a 3-pointer on review, to push Indiana's lead back up to 10.
Allen has 19 points, a Celtics team high.
End third quarter, Pacers 63-55: Hansbrough's game is as basic as they come. He gets inside position, cleans up on the offensive glass and either scores the putback or gets to the line.
The Celtics have no answer for that simple approach, and Hansbrough went to the line twice in a 20-second span. He went 3-for-4 from the line to give the Pacers a 61-53 lead, and Hill hit a floater to make the lead 10 points.
Dooling ended the 1:12 drought for the Celtics with a jumper, but the Celtics were only mildly better in the third quarter than they were in the first half. They enter the fourth quarter being outrebounded 40-26.
Third quarter, 1:31, Pacers 58-51: The Pacers can't seem to pull away permanently and the Celtics can't get any closer than two points. A trey by Pierce pulled the Celtics within two again at 47-45, but Collison responded with back-to-back jumpers to extend the lead to eight. Pierce went 2-for-2 from the free throw line to close it to 53-47, but a Granger 3 and another Collison jumper put Indiana ahead by nine at 58-49.
Garnett caught an alley-oop dunk from Rondo, giving the Celtics another glimmer of hope that they can get back in the game.
Third quarter, 6:06, Pacers 45-40: The emotion of their mini-comeback did not last long for the Celtics, who saw their deficit grow back to as many as six points.
Allen hit another corner 3 to bring Boston within 40-38, but George answered with his own 3 and Hibbert drew a foul muscling with O'Neal and hit the free throw for a 44-38 lead. Two bad plays by Rondo including a charge and a technical foul gave Indiana another comfortable cushion.
Third quarter, 8:20, Pacers 37-35: The switch didn't get flipped right away, but after West and George increased Indiana's lead to 37-28, the Celtics suddenly figured it out.
Garnett got it started with two fre throws and Allen slipped behind a Pierce screen into the corner for a 3 to close the gap to 37-33. After O'Neal drew his second charge of the game, this one on Collison, Rondo sprinted down the lane for a layup in traffic. The 6-0 run spooks Pacers coach Frank Vogel into taking a timeout.
Third quarter, 10:41, Pacers 33-25: Neither team even had a chance to score yet (not that it's a huge surprise in this game) before Doc Rivers called a 20-second timeout to talk it over.
Rivers couldn't have liked what he saw in the first half, and it took all of 1:19 to decide he didn't like the new half, either.
Halftime, Pacers 33-25: … and that brings to and end an absolutely putrid first half for the Celtics.
The Pacers closed the second quarter with four unanswered baskets, with Hibbert following a Hill jumper with a baby hook. The Celtics trailed by eight after shooting 9-for-34 on field goals.
The Good: Tyler Hansbrough is the most active player on the floor. The reserve forward has seven poitns and three rebounds in 11:17, hitting three of his four field goals and one of two foul shots.
The Bad: The entire Celtics squad belongs here for teaming up to score 25 first-half points — tying a franchise record. In addition to the 27 percent shooting mark the Celtics were 1-of-6 from the foul line and were outrebounded 30-18. Paul Pierce is the standard-bearer so far with two points on 1-for-9 shooting and two 3-point misses in 18:35. Brandon Bass wasn't much hotter with three misses in four tries and just one rebound in 13:42.
The So-so: Jermaine O'Neal had a tall order (literally) in Roy Hibbert, and the Celtics big man fared pretty well. O'Neal had four points and five rebounds in 15:37. He also played solid defense with three blocked shots. … Ray Allen only took five shots, making two, but he made his only three-ball and was 3-for-4 on free throws. Eight points in 18:54 isn't bad for a 36-year-old guy battling flu-like symptoms. … Hibbert has six points and seven rebounds, but the 7-foot-2 Georgetown product had his shot blocked twice and was just 3-for-11 from the field in 15:37.
Second quarter, 2:58, Pacers 29-25: Hibbert's size may begin to make more of an impact as the game wears on and O'Neal's legs grow more tired. For now, O'Neal's doing OK, but their have been chinks in the armor.
A pair of O'Neal free throws briefly tied it up at 25-25, but Hibbert played a role in the Pacers' next two baskets. He finished a pick-and-roll with Collison by dunking for the lead, then dropped off a post-up pass to a cutting Collison for a layup.
Second quarter, 5:58, Pacers 25-21: Some people have been calling for Bass to pass more, and he thought about it when he received the ball beyond the foul line. When he found no one to pass too — and no one covering him tightly — he burst to the hoop for a two-handed dunk, although it only closed the Celtics' deficit to 20-16.
It took a while, but Allen finally got his first triple of the game a few plays later. Allen's straight-ahead 3-pointer momentarily pulled the Celtics within 23-21, but he allowed Dontae Jones to cut in front of him straight down the lane on the other end.
Second quarter, 9:36, Pacers 20-14: Hansbrough is nothing if not persistent. A dunk by massive off guard George from Price gave the Pacers the lead at 16-14, followed by two contested buckets by Hansbrough, the last coming after a mid-air wrestling match with KG.
End first quarter, game tied 14-14: Don't blame Tyler Hansbrough for being a little surprised that he didn't get a whistle when O'Neal blocked his shot with a little more than two minute remaining in the quarter. Hansborough gets those calls — a lot.
The North Carolina product averages nearly six free throw attempts per game, as many as stars like LaMarcus Aldridge and Dirk Nowitzki. But O'Neal blocked him cleanly (his third blocked shot already), then took a charge on a drive by George Hill.
Hill and UConn product A.J. Price split a pair of free throws to tie it up after a first quarter in which the Pacers outshot the Celtics 22-15 and outrebounded them 15-10
First quarter, 3:22, Celtics 13-9: The Pacers' shooting woes continued, but the Celtics were not able to pull away even though the Pacers shot 19 percent from the field in the first nine minutes.
O'Neal calmly took a dribble and hit a short jumper of a screen-and-roll with Pierce and Boston holds the lead despite taking just 13 shots and committing two turnovers.
Bass also showed development in his help defense by blocking Collison on a reverse layup try.
First quarter, 5:07, Celtics 10-9: Brandon Bass has been criticized for his defense, but he availed himself well when a pick-and-roll switch forced him to cover point guard Collison. Bass picked up Collison out at the 3-point line and forced Collison into a fallaway jumpshot that missed.
First quarter, 6:25, Celtics 10-8: O'Neal may be giving up size, but that's all he gave up to Hibbert.
O'Neal already has two blocked shots. His first started a fast break that ended with Pierce giving a no-look pass to Garnett for a dunk, and his second sparked a twisting layup by Rondo to put the Celtics ahead.
First quarter, 8:49, game tied 4-4: The Celtics will have a height disadvantage at a number of positions, especially on the wings.
George is about three to four inches taller than Allen at shooting guard, and Granger has almost three inches on Pierce at small forward. Down low, the 7-foot-2 Hibbert has three inches on O'Neal and the Pacers have gone to Hibbert twice in the post. Hibbert's turnaround jumper opened the scoring.
7:25 p.m.: Based on the way they finished last season and pushed the Bulls in the playoffs, the Pacers were a popular pick to move up in the playoff seedings this year even before West signed. Once they added West, some observers predicted the Pacers would threaten to host a playoff series.
Six games into the season, that's still up for debate. The Pacers are 4-2 and sit in second place behind the Bulls, last season's No. 1 seed, but their four wins came against the Pistons, Cavs, Raptors and Nets, who are a combined 9-16.
A quick look at the advanced (and not so advanced) statistical breakdown makes it fairly easy to see why the Pacers might have trouble with better teams. They take barely any shots from the fairly makeable distance of 3-9 feet, according to HoopData, despite a reasonably effective 43 percent shooting percentage from that distance. They're also the fifth-worst team in the NBA at getting shots close to the rim.
In fact, the Pacers not only don't take many easy shots — they don't take many shots, period. They are 16th in the league in field goal attempts, which is actually a far higher volume than the Celtics, who are second to last in that category. The difference is that the Celtics shoot 48 percent, so they can manage with fewer attempts; for the Pacers, who shoot barely 40 percent, getting up a few more shots is crucial.
Long story short: The Pacers don't take many shots, and when they do, they aren't making them very often.
Unlike some of the other bad offensive teams the Celtics have faced, however, the Pacers aren't hopeless. They are 4-2 with proven scorers Danny Granger and David West yet to find their groove, so this team could be a threat by the time May rolls around.
7:05 p.m.: After participating in the morning shootaround, Ray Allen is expected to be in the starting lineup for the Celtics against the Pacers.
The 36-year-old off guard played Monday against Washington with flu-like symptoms and shot 6-of-7 on 3-pointers. He was out of the lineup Wednesday with the same symptoms after being instructed to stay away by coach Doc Rivers.
It will be interesting to see what sort of reaction Pacers forward David West gets from the TD Garden crowd. West reportedly turned down a three-year, $29 million deal with the Celtics to sign a two-year, $20 million contract in Indiana. For many Boston fans, this amounts to a felony, so the boos may be long and loud.
Here are the projeted starting lineups:
8:45 a.m.: The Celtics could be without their top long-range shooter again Friday, with shooting guard Ray Allen questionable against the Indiana Pacers.
Allen's absence due to flue-like symptoms Wednesday against the Nets did not prevent the Celtics from stretching their win streak to four straight games, but the Pacers are more formidable than the Nets. Indiana (4-2) returns a talented core of players from last season's promising roster, which they bolstered during the offseason with new additions like forward David West and point guard George Hill. Despite an embarrassing 118-83 loss to the Dwyane Wade-less Miami Heat on Wednesday, the Pacers are in second place in the Central Division.
The Celtics (4-3) get an unusually long stretch of rest after this game. Their next contest isn't until Wednesday against defending champion Dallas.
Join us during the game for updates and analysis. Tip-off is 7:30 p.m.
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