Second Half Implosion Has Pacers In Series Hole With Boston
Joe Robbins | Getty Images
INDIANAPOLIS – Holding Boston to a season-low 84 points in Game 1 was exactly what the Pacers needed to prove they could finally win a road game over a quality opponent.
But the worst offensive performance of the season for the Pacers means the road cloud remains for Indiana.
An abysmal third quarter will be how this Game 1 is remembered for the Pacers, as their double-digit first-half lead turned into a fourth quarter that had no game pressure on the home team.
Boston’s 84-74 victory on Sunday afternoon gave them a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Afterwards, Nate McMillan was once again talking about a puzzling third quarter, one in which the Pacers shot 2-of-19 from the floor and committed 5 turnovers.
“Well you know, first it was turnovers,” McMillan said of the problems coming out of half. “Our first two possessions were turnovers. We didn’t establish ourselves in that third quarter and the turnovers led to poor execution and missed some shots. I thought we had some open looks in that third quarter and really lost our rhythm. I thought we kind of lost our way in that third quarter.”
The Celtics outscored the Pacers 26-8 in the pivotal quarter, and Indiana’s offensive issues did not stop when the final period arrived.
In total, the Pacers went nearly 18 minutes into the second half before a starter of theirs made a field goal.
The 74 points scored by Indiana was 15 points fewer than their regular-season low this year.
Bojan Bogdanovic was again stifled, as he scored just 12 points on 4-of-11 shooting.
Indiana’s bench helped build a double-digit lead in the second quarter, but it was Boston’s reserves that eventually made the difference.
Marcus Morris (20 points) and Gordon Hayward (10 points) combined for 30 points off the bench to off-set Kyrie Irving going just 6-of-17 from the field.
Both teams had woeful shooting efforts, with Indiana connecting on 33.3 percent of its shots, and Boston shooting just 36.4 percent.
Three Pacers’ Takeaways:
-Horrendous Third Quarter: In today’s NBA, you have to search pretty hard to find a team scoring just 29 points in a half. But the Pacers did that on Sunday, with an 8-point third quarter totally changing the look of this game. Indiana was 2-of-19 in the third quarter, with the starting lineup scoring just 1 point. In Sunday’s second half, the Pacers didn’t receive a field goal from one of their starters until the 6:26 mark of the fourth quarter. When Cory Joseph (14 points)---the guy who couldn’t shoot it over the last month---is your leading scorer, that’s an issue. Third-quarter problems plagued Indiana a lot this season. Boston clogged the paint after halftime on Sunday and the half-court offense disappeared for Indiana in the third.
-Bigs Must Deliver: If there’s an advantage the Pacers should have in their favor (besides whoever Kyrie Irving is guarding) in this series, it’s with their big men. But Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis really struggled on Sunday. Turner and Sabonis were 5-of-15 for 12 points. That pair is too skilled to put up games like they did on Sunday. Boston is going to commit a heavy amount of resources to try and take away Bojan Bogdanovic this series. They did that on Sunday, with Bogey going 4-of-11 from the floor. That’s where Indiana needs their big guys to be reliable scoring threats against a team that doesn’t have a rim protector. Turner didn’t stretch the floor enough on Sunday and Sabonis struggled when fed down low. That must change on Wednesday, especially for a team that doesn’t rely much on the three-point shot.
-Opportunity Lost: Indiana hasn’t won a road game over a team with a winning record since the calendar changed to 2019. That’s why what transpired in Sunday’s second half is so demoralizing. Opportunities for quality road wins have not turned into Ws for the Pacers over the last few months. And the fact that they had a double-digit lead late in Sunday’s first half only adds to the sour taste of going down 0-1 in the series. Boston is a team that has dealt with its own internal issues this season, so applying some serious pressure early in this series is the exact path the Pacers would like to go down if they are going to have a chance. Indiana will obviously play better on Wednesday, but so will Boston, who scored a season-low 84 points and shot a season-worse 33.8 percent from the field.
Remaining Series Schedule
-Game 2: at Boston, (Wednesday, 7:00 on TNT)
-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)