BOSTON, May 1 (Ticker) --
A quick start by the Boston Celtics
finished off the Indiana Pacers.
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The Celtics made 14 straight shots in the first half and stormed
into the Eastern Conference semifinals with a 110-90 victory
over the Indiana Pacers, closing out the first-round series in
The sixth-seeded Celtics advanced to the conference semifinals
for the second straight year and will face the second-seeded New
Jersey Nets. Last year, they lost to the Nets in six games in
the conference finals.
scored 27 points for Boston, which made surprisingly
easy work of Indiana. The Celtics set the tone for the series
with a huge comeback win in Game 1, turned the trick again in
Games 3 and 4 and countered the inside strength advantage
of the Pacers with perimeter shooting and experience.
"They're such a big physical team that if you have to grind out
your half court offense against them, they can make life
miserable for you," Celtics coach Jim O'Brien said.
"I just think with the veteran guys we have around here and
going through what we went through last year, we understand what
it takes," Pierce said.
It was the third straight first-round exit for the third-seeded
Pacers, who have one of the deepest rosters in the NBA but
appear to be lacking the veteran leadership needed to win in the
"We are a team that likes to put the ball inside and when we
don't have a chance to put it inside and they close down the
inside lanes, then it opens up perimeter shots for us and we
just weren't able to knock down shots from the perimeter,"
Pacers coach Isiah Thomas said. "I think that you have to give
them a lot of credit. They exposed that we couldn't hold
leads," said Pacers veteran guard Reggie Miller
, who had a poor
series. "They are the ones that came back from 16 or 17 down in
Game One and won that. I think we had every opportunity in
Games Three, Four and tonight to get back into the series and we
Indiana's youthful immaturity showed after the game, when
temperamental forward Ron Artest
got into a brief shoving match
with Pacers executive Mel Daniels.
The Celtics made their last 11 shots of the first quarter,
opening a 33-15 lead. They sank their first three attempts of
the second period, including a turnaround jumper by Mark Blount
that pushed the advantage to 40-17.
"It was awful good," O'Brien said. "That was awful good
Clearly unnerved, the Pacers got no closer than 13 points
thereafter and trailed by as many as 27 late in the third
quarter. The toughness they displayed during the first half of
the season was nowhere to be found.
scored 21 points for Boston, which shot 48
percent (40-of-83) overall, including 12-of-25 from the arc.
They never trailed and committed just seven turnovers.
had 25 points and 19 rebounds before being
ejected for Indiana, which shot just 29 percent (25-of-85). It
never has beaten Boston in three postseason series, all in the
"Losing and not advancing is always frustrating and we have the
entire summer to think about it," O'Neal said.
made a pair of 3-pointers to open the game and
set the tone. Tony Delk
had a pair of 3-pointers 62 seconds
apart midway through the period and J.R. Bremer
made one with
1:22 to go. In the first period, Boston made 13-of-16 shots,
including 5-of-6 from the arc.
"We got guys who can shoot the ball on this team," McCarty said.
"That's the type of team that we've built. If Antoine and Paul
are getting doubled, that's how we try to beat teams and
fortunately we've been able to do that."
Bremer made a jumper and Pierce had a three-point play to open
the second quarter and give the Celtics a 38-15 bulge.
"We were feeding off of emotion," Walker said. "Guys were
looking for one another and taking the open shots. Nobody was
"They came out blazing," Pacers forward Al Harrington
"They shot 81 percent in the first quarter and that's unheard
of. That was the last thing that we needed."
The Pacers closed to 50-34 at halftime as the Celts missed their
last eight shots. But a layup and 3-pointer by Walker gave
Boston its largest lead at 74-47 with 2:33 left in the third
Delk scored 15 points, McCarty added 13 and Bremer 12 for the
Celtics. Artest scored 20 points and Erick Strickland
Jonathan Bender added 12 each for the Pacers.