Pacers Win In Boston, Climb To Three Seed In East
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INDIANAPOLIS – Outside of a fluke-ish late-game collapse in December, the Indiana Pacers have been outstanding in close games this season.
That continued on Sunday night, when the Pacers (39-28) got some revenge on the Boston Celtics (46-21) for that game-to-forget earlier this year.
Indiana’s 99-97 win in Boston gave the Pacers a win leading into their toughest week of the season.
“It’s really big to win the first game of a road trip and to come here to Boston and to get this win,” head coach Nate McMillan said after the Pacers swept the Celtics on the road this season.
“We knew it was going to be a grind and our guys fought for 48 minutes. It took all 48 minutes to get this win.”
It certainly did with Boston competing all game long despite not having starters Al Horford (sick), Jaylen Brown (concussion) and Kyrie Irving (knee) missing the entire second half.
The Celtics took a 10-point halftime lead on Sunday, but things evaporated quickly with Irving missing the final two quarters due to a sore knee.
Indiana scored 11 straight points in the 3rd quarter and outscored Boston 34-20 in the pivotal period.
With Victor Oladipo leading the way with 27 points on 10-of-20 shooting, the Pacers surged ahead of the short-handed Celtics.
A back-and-forth final quarter saw Indiana take a 7-point lead on an Oladipo three-pointer with a little more than 2 minutes to go.
But the Celtics responded by scoring 7 straight to tie the game at 95 with 36 seconds to go.
The Pacers then turned to Myles Turner in the post---an area of concern all season long for Indiana—and the big fella answered with an aggressive go-ahead basket through Boston forward Marcus Morris.
Boston almost made things heart-stopping again for the Pacers after Morris drew a questionable offensive foul call on Oladipo with 1 second to play.
But Terry Rozier’s desperation shot at the buzzer fell short, giving the Pacers a 99-97 victory, as Turner’s bucket was the difference with Indiana moving to 9-1 in games decided by 3 points or less this season.
“It’s big,” Turner said of his final minute basket. “Just knowing I can be trusted down there in the post.
“I’ve been telling people, I tell this team, I’ve always had a post-game. It’s just something I never, I guess, utilized this season and season’s past. But, I’m going to grow more and more confident down there. I know it’s just the next step in my development.”
With the win, the Pacers are now the 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference for the first time this season.
Indiana is a half game above the Cavs (38-28), and holds the head-to-head season tiebreaker, with 15 games remaining.
What’s Next: The Pacers (39-28) have 3 difficult games left this week: @Philadelphia (Tuesday), Toronto (Thursday) and @Washington (Saturday).