Continued Offensive Droughts Have Pacers On Verge Of Being Swept
Joe Robbins | Getty Images
INDIANAPOLIS – Gold might not quit, but the shooting of the Indiana Pacers continues to abandon them in second halves.
More untimely scoring droughts cost the Pacers on Friday night and has them now on the verge of being swept in Round One of the playoffs.
The Boston Celtics took full advantage of inept Pacers offense in the second half on Friday, earning a 104-96 win on the road.
"Third quarter, we lost our patience," Nate McMillan said after his team fell to being down 3-0 in the best-of-seven series. "We weren’t patient. We started taking some quick, contested shots, bailing them out. I thought defensively we didn’t have patience, we lost the rhythm, lost momentum. That carried out throughout the game."
Indiana is on the brink of elimination because of poor execution on the offensive end of the floor flaring up in the second half of every game this series.
The issues on Friday arose with long field goal droughts in the third and fourth quarter.
Hot shooting was the story of Friday’s first half, with Boston and Indiana combining to hit 19-of-33 three pointers.
But a 12-point third quarter for Indiana marked the third time this series that the Pacers had scored 12 or fewer points in a quarter.
Arguably the best game of the season from Tyreke Evans (19 points, 4-of-6 from behind the arc) sparked things early on for Indiana.
The Pacers overcame a 15-point deficit in the first quarter to take a two-point lead at halftime.
However, an early third-quarter drought sprung up leading to Boston taking a 7-point cushion into the 4th quarter.
Indiana had Bankers Life Fieldhouse in a frenzy early in the 4th quarter with a run that gave them the lead back at 86-84 with 7:10 to play.
The unfortunate theme that has flared up too many times this series for Indiana reappeared again though.
After the Matthews three, Indiana went nearly 6 minutes without a field goal, as the Celtics took control for the 3-0 series lead.
Besides Evans, six other Indiana players finished in double figures. But Indiana scored fewer than 100 points for a third straight game in this series.
Boston was led by 23 points (8-of-9 shooting) from Jaylen Brown. Kyrie Irving provided his extraordinary shotmaking/playmaking to score 19 points and dish out 10 assists.
Three Pacers’ Takeaways:
-More Costly Droughts Show Up: The offensive woes of the Indiana Pacers have now traveled to both arenas in this series. On Friday, Indiana had two separate second-half droughts of more than 5 minutes without a field goal. The first came early in the third quarter. A Myles Turner opening possession three gave Indiana a 64-59 lead (their largest of the game). It took 5:38 before their next field goal came though, following nine straight misses. Chances to build upon a cushion and finally force Boston to play from behind for long stretches was gone. The second back-breaking drought came in the 4th quarter. A Wesley Matthews three ignited Bankers Life Fieldhouse and gave Indiana a lead at 86-84 with 7:10 remaining. What followed though was a field goal drought of nearly 6 minutes, with Boston outscoring Indiana by 10 points during that stretch. For yet another time in this series, gone was a chance to put some pressure on the Celtics. Blame goes all-around for these fatal droughts, with the overall lack of scoring talent (with Victor Oladipo in Miami) being the dominating theme for the Pacers.
-Lack Of Rebounding Still There Back in September, as the Pacers gathered for Training Camp, head coach Nate McMillan made it perfectly clear what he wanted to see his team improve on this season. Well, after 85 games this season, rebounding continues to be an issue for the Pacers. They have been outrebounded in all three games this series (by 18, 10 and 5 rebounds). On Friday, some very timely offensive rebounds by the Celtics turned into big swings in momentum as Boston eventually pulled away. Boston is nowhere near an elite rebounding team, but they’ve dominated the glass against an Indiana team receiving not at all what they’ve needed from their frontcourt pieces.
-Trying Not To Be Swept: Yep, that’s the goal on Sunday afternoon. Friday’s loss means the Pacers are trying to avoid a sweep for the second time in three seasons. Realistically, no one could have thought that Indiana had much of a legit chance to win this series. Still, the expectation for many was that Indiana could win at least one game. If anyone is looking for a flicker of hope for this series extending a bit, the biggest missing piece in this series should be at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Sunday. Victor Oladipo was planning to attend Game 3, but he couldn’t due to a delayed flight. Oladipo is expected to be in the building on Sunday, his first in-person appearance at a game since his season-ending surgery on January 23. Will he see his team’s season end or head back to Boston for a Game 5? And for those thinking crazy, no NBA team has ever come back from an 3-0 deficit in playoff history.
Remaining Series Schedule
Game 4: Indiana, (Sunday, 4/21, 1:00 on ABC)
*Game 5 at Boston, (Wednesday, 4/24, TBD)
*Game 6 Indiana, (Friday, 4/26, TBD)
*Game 7 at Boston, (Sunday, 4/28, TBD)