Brad Stevens had to have had December 22, 2013 circled on his calendar since the moment he saw the NBA schedule this summer, as it marked his first return to Indiana as an NBA head coach. But now that the game’s over, he’s likely looking to forget this tilt as soon as possible. The Celtics took one on the chin, and fell to the Pacers 106-79.
Stevens’ team was overmatched from the opening tip against the best team in the Eastern Conference and the NBA’s most imposing defense. The Celtics struggled to score inside, getting their first points in the paint 17 minutes into the contest on a Jared Sullinger put-back. That hoop may have been the key moment of the game, because when Sullinger finally broke through for the Celtics’ first points in the paint, it clearly illustrated the drastic disadvantage Boston had in the contest.
Roy Hibbert, perhaps the most dominant center in the conference - if not the league - made his presence felt early, posting 10 points and five rebounds in the opening stanza. The Celtics didn’t have an answer for Hibbert defensively (he finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds), and his defensive presence around the basket forced them to resort to taking mostly midrange jumpers. Hibbert blocked three shots and changed countless others, clearly frustrating the Celtics’ offense.
The C’s trailed by three points after the first quarter and 15 at the half, but Indiana went on a 10-4 run to start the third that pushed their lead to 21 points. The Celtics never really made a run, and the Pacers spent the rest of the half in cruise control while Lance Stephenson spent most of the second half chasing a cheap triple-double. Stephenson finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists and plenty of mean-mugs and “look at me” gestures.
Key Box Score Line
If there’s one box score line from the Celtics that tells the story of Sunday night’s game, it might be that of MarShon Brooks. That’s because Brooks appeared in just his ninth game for the Celtics, and played just over 10 minutes in what was admittedly garbage time.
The fact that Brooks played so long illustrates that this game was long-decided before the final horn. To his credit, Brooks made the most of his rare opportunity and pitched in a solid contribution during his time on the floor.
Brooks hasn’t been able to find a place in the Celtics’ rotation this season, but he had a nice performance in his appearance against the Pacers. Brooks scored six points, grabbed five rebounds and blocked two shots.
Box Score Nuggets
- No Celtic scored more than 13 points, and just three Celtics scored in double-figures.
- All 12 active Celtics appeared in the game.
- Jared Sullinger played just under 17 minutes and struggled from the field, connecting on just three of his nine attempts.
- Jordan Crawford led all Celtics starters with two assists. The team notched 16 helpers on the night.
- Despite their own struggles scoring in the paint, the Celtics blocked 10 Pacers shots. Indiana blocked five of Boston's shot attempts.
- The Pacers tallied 28 assists, led by Lance Stephenson, who had 10 as part of a triple-double.
- Five Pacers players grabbed five or more rebounds, led by Hibbert’s 12.
- David West was the only Pacers starter who committed three or more fouls.
Quote of the Night
If we want to be a good team we have to play well against the elite teams. Brad Stevens on his team getting blown out on Sunday night in Indiana against the best team in the Eastern Conference.More quotes >>