Pacers Fail To Finish, Miss Another Opportunity In Boston
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INDIANAPOLIS – Whether it’s the third quarter or the fourth quarter, catastrophic scoring droughts have the Indiana Pacers in a 0-2 series hole.
The inexcusable drought on Wednesday came in the final quarter, with Indiana’s double-digit lead evaporating in Boston.
With it went another golden chance to shift the series outlook with the Celtics.
Boston scored the game’s last 10 points, all coming in the final minute, to beat the Pacers 99-91 in Game 2 of their best-of-seven series.
“We got to finish,” Nate McMillan said after starting the series 0-2. “We got to do a better job of finishing games and situations like that. Execution on both ends of the floor, getting stops defensively, offensively being clear about what you want to do and what you need to do in that situation. We all have to do a better job, I have to do a better job, we all have to do a better job.”
Unlike in Game 1, Indiana built its double-digit lead in Wednesday’s third quarter.
Massive rim protection from Myles Turner and impressive offensive rhythm helped the Pacers to a 29-16 outing in the third period, giving Indiana an 11-point lead going into the 4th.
But after a Tyreke Evans (13 points) three-pointer to give Indiana a 82-70 lead at the 11:20 mark of the 4th, Boston went on a 16-0 run. The Indiana drought spanned more than 7 minutes.
McMillan’s team didn’t completely fold up though.
Consecutive threes from Bojan Bogdanovic (23 points) gave Indiana the lead back entering the final minute.
Everything unraveled from there though.
Kyrie Irving bounced back from an inconsistent Game 1 to score 37 points. Jayson Tatum added 26 for Boston, including a huge go-ahead three pointer in the game’s final minute.
Besides Bogdanovic and Evans, Thad Young and Darren Collison added 15 and 13, respectively, to pace Indiana.
The lack of scoring from Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis continues to be an issue for Indiana. The duo is now a combined 8-of-23 for 21 points in the first two games of this series.
“There’s always been one quarter that kills us in the second half," Young said after Wednesday's loss. "It’s either the third or the fourth quarter. Last game it was the third quarter and as you can see tonight it was the fourth. We only scored 12 points and they scored 31. It’s always tough, we’re getting good looks and shots are not falling. They are picking up their defense in the fourth and we’re playing as hard as we could and we’re doing the same things that we’ve been doing. The biggest thing, like I’ve always said, is we just got to put together a 48-minute game and we haven’t been able to do that.”
Three Pacers’ Takeaways:
-Horrific Fourth-Quarter Execution: Let’s start with the 12 points scored by the Pacers in the 4th quarter on Wednesday. That 4-of-17 effort in the final period, including 0-for-9 inside the arc tells a large chunk of the story in how Boston erased a 10-point deficit to win by 9. For a second straight game, the Pacers suffered through a massive drought in the second half. During that stretch, Boston went on a 16-0 run, with Indiana continually misfiring on half-court possessions that routinely reached the deepest parts of the shot clock. The final-minute execution from Indiana was especially horrid. Yes, Boston having Kyrie and the Pacers having Victor Oladipo on the couch in Miami doesn’t help, but Indiana was beyond sloppy in Wednesday’s final minute. The four possessions by Indiana went like this: blocked shot by Al Horford (on Bojan Bogdanovic), missed banked three attempt by Wesley Matthews, horrible in-bounds pass by Matthews and then a turnover on a handoff exchange to Myles Turner. And on defense, Indiana looked lost with buckets from Jayson Tatum and Gordon Hayward. Not having a closer is one thing. But not even being able to make simple basketball plays in the biggest minute of the game is so much worse, no matter the personnel on the floor.
-Where Is Sabonis’ Scoring?: It’s a rare topic to talk about surrounding the Pacers. But you cannot ignore the first two games of this series for Domantas Sabonis. He’s been a virtual no-show, going 3-of-10 from the floor for 8 points in 50 minutes. Sabonis was 0-for-1 in 22 minutes on Wednesday. While his assist numbers have led to some offensive production, Sabonis usual reliability as a scorer has not been there against a team that doesn’t have imposing frontcourt depth to counter one of Indiana’s strengths. With Indiana’s offense going through these droughts, having a player like Sabonis, who can typically create his own shot, once fed in the post, struggle is particularly demoralizing in trying to quiet any opposing runs. Sabonis was so key for Indiana last year in the playoffs in pushing Cleveland to 7 games. His disappearance this April has this series already tilted in the opposite direction.
-Responding After The Blown Opportunities: Given what the Pacers have done on the road since the New Year, they couldn’t have asked for two better chances to steal games in Boston. But they blew both of those opportunities. Chances to totally shift this series outlook, and make the Celtics continue to question themselves went out the door on Wednesday in the final minute. Now, Indiana must re-group or else their season could be over by the end of the weekend. The Pacers should be able to at least earn a split at home, but this team’s psyche has to be teetering after two very difficult losses to start this series.
Remaining Series Schedule
Game 3: Indiana, (Friday, 4/19, 8:30 on ESPN)
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)