During the first half of Friday night’s game against Indiana, the Celtics learned what it takes to take down the NBA’s best team.
Unfortunately for them, they learned during the second half what it takes to be overwhelmed by the league’s best team.
Boston took an eight-point lead into halftime against the Pacers thanks to phenomenal team play and an impressive level of energy and passion. The C’s didn’t just outplay the Pacers; they actually knocked Indiana off balance.
The C’s shot 59 percent from the floor over the first 24 minutes against an Indiana team that leads the NBA in opponent scoring and opponent field goal percentage. Jordan Crawford, who scored 19 points on 8-of-8 shooting in the first half, was the key cog to Boston's 50-42 lead at the break.
It was great watching the Good Celtics. It wasn’t so fun watching the Bad Celtics, whom Brad Stevens believed ran out of gas during the second half.
“Sometimes when you play with that level of energy and emotion in the first half, it’s hard to sustain it,” he said.
He was correct on that assertion.
The Celtics came back onto the floor in the second half and looked like a completely different team. They committed just seven turnovers in the first half, but coughed the ball up 11 times in the third quarter alone. Indiana cashed in those turnovers to the tune of 18 points.
On top of the poor decision making, Boston also shot just 3-of-14 from the field during the quarter. It wound up scoring just eight points in the frame while Indiana put up 25.
Asked what happened on offense during the troubling quarter, Stevens replied, “Well, we passed them the ball too much.”
And that’s something you just can’t do against the league’s best team. Boston’s eight-point halftime lead evaporated in an instant and Indiana went on to a 97-82 win.
Key Box Score Line
Jordan Crawford talks a lot about his “steez.” It’s his style, mixed with ease.
Steez was in full effect Friday night, because Crawford looked pretty darn good while he torched the league’s best defense with ease.
Crawford recorded what may be the best first half of his career Friday night at TD Garden. He dropped in a ridiculous 19 points over the first 24 minutes of action.
Those points didn’t arrive via a good shooting performance. Heck, he didn’t even give a great shooting performance. This half? It can only be described as perfect.
Crawford did not miss a single shot during the first half as he finished 8-of-8 from the field. That performance included a 2-of-2 performance from downtown, which was highlighted by a buzzer-beating 3 as the half came to a close.
It’s surprising that the ball didn’t light up when Crawford touched the ball in the first half. The guy was officially en fuego.
Crawford’s second half wasn’t quite as compelling, as he scored only five more points, but it’s nearly impossible to duplicate such an effort. As head coach Brad Stevens explained, “Anybody who’s ever gotten on a roll like that will tell you that halftime is the worst thing that can happen.”
Despite cooling off in the second half, Crawford still finished with a team-high 24 points on 10-of-12 shooting from the field. He also chipped in three rebounds, a team-high four assists and two steals.
All in all, that’s a pretty "steezy" effort.
Box Score Nuggets
- The Celtics shot 50.7 percent from the field against the league's best defense.
- Jordan Crawford scored a team-high 24 points on 10-of-12 shooting.
- Boston totaled just 11 assists in the game.
- Luis Scola scored 17 of Indiana's 29 bench points.
- Indiana's scoring increased in each of the final three quarters.
- Boston grabbed just 31 rebounds in the game.
- Lance Stephenson tallied a triple-double with 10 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.
- Stephenson also grabbed four steals.
- Paul George scored a game-high 27 points.
- Jeff Green scored 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting.
- Indiana scored 30 points off of Boston's 23 turnovers.
- Eleven of Boston's 23 turnovers were committed in the third quarter.
- Avery Bradley led the Celtics in rebounds with seven.
Quote of the Night
Well, we passed them (the Pacers) the ball too much. Brad Stevens on why Boston's offense slowed down so much in the third quarter