Ford Keys to the Game: Pacers 87, Celtics 94
Pacers 87, Celtics 94
Adversity seeps through the NBA from the first day of preseason until the NBA Finals come to a close. The bad and mediocre teams can’t fight through it and tumble to the bottom of the standings, while the good and great teams are able to break through and overcome those difficult situations.
The Boston Celtics showed again tonight why they are a team that stands firmly in that second category.
Tonight’s contest against the Indiana Pacers was what many like to call a trap game. The C’s got back to Boston at about 3:15 a.m. this morning after fighting to the buzzer to grab an incredible win over the Magic Thursday night in Orlando. The players were tired and the opponent, the Pacers, were coming off of a day of rest.
Boston defied the odds early on, though, and came out of the gates with energy and execution. It took an eight-point lead into halftime thanks to a balanced offense and great defense.
But this season’s version of the Pacers isn’t one that will go down easily. They came out in the third quarter and showed a dramatic spike in effort, energy and execution. That type of play helped Indiana tie the game up at 46-46 after beginning the third quarter with a 12-4 run.
That, my friends, is the moment in which the not-so-good team crumbles. Think about the situation: playing in the second night of a back-to-back against a very good team that had found it’s rhythm and erased all of its mistakes from the first half. It’s easy to give up in that situation. But that mindset doesn’t exist in Boston, especially in the mind of captain Paul Pierce.
“I think [Pierce] was a little upset the way we started out the third, then we called the timeout,” Doc Rivers said. “We were sloppy, we stopped executing, we got rejected twice in a row on pick-and-rolls, and that’s why I called that early timeout. Some of that (poor play) was Paul, and I thought he took that to heart.”
Umm, yeah. You could say that.
Before the game was tied up at 46-46, Pierce had scored just two points in the third period and nine in the entire game. After the game was tied up? Let’s just say he took over.
The captain dropped 15 points during the final 6:25 of the third quarter, taking a tie game and putting it in the Celtics’ back pocket. Pierce immediately responded after the game was tied up at 46-46 and contributed to nine of Boston’s next 11 points, seven of which he scored and two of which he assisted on. That run helped the Celtics turn the tie into an 11-point advantage in the span of just 2:29 of playing time.
That’s how a great player and a great team respond to adversity. Teams take on the personality of their leaders, and that was evident tonight when Pierce led his team to victory in a very challenging situation.
Key Box Score Line
There isn’t much else to say after that section above, but we’ll highlight Paul Pierce’s overall stat line just to prove a point. Pierce continued his hot streak tonight and poured in a game high total in all three major categories with 28 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. He shot 10-of-23 from the field, including 4-of-7 from 3-point range, during just more than 34 minutes of playing time. Oh, and he also chipped in three steals and two blocks, too.
And just to think, this is a guy who played more than 44 minutes on Thursday night, led the team to victory and then arrived back home in Boston after 3 a.m. Wonder what he’s going to do when he’s well rested...
Box Score Nuggets
- Boston recorded 21 assists while Indiana dished out just 11.
- The Pacers shot just 35.0 percent from the field.
- Paul Pierce finished with game highs of 28 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and 23 shots attempted. He also tied for the game high in blocks with two.
- Indiana shot just 1-of-19 from 3-point range.
- Boston outrebounded Indiana 45-42.
- The Pacers scored 17 points in both the first and second quarters.
- Pierce tied for the game high in turnovers with six, which was three-times the amount of the next-highest total by a Celtic.
- Roy Hibbert committed six turnovers in just 27:30 of playing time.
- Three Celtics (Avery Bradley, Marquis Daniels and E'Twaun Moore) scored four points apiece.
- Chris Wilcox was Boston's second-leading scorer with 14 points off the bench.
- Kevin Garnett scored 12 points for the second straight game.
- The Pacers' 31 free throw attempts were more than double that of the Celtics' total of 14.
- The Celtics had one of their best interior scoring nights of the season, notching 48 points in the paint.
- Indiana scored 23 fast break points.
- Danny Granger led the Pacers with 21 points.
- Wilcox (14 points) nearly matched the scoring output of Indiana's entire bench, which totaled 17 points.
Quote of the Night
Doc Rivers on the challenge of tonight's game: "Oh, it was a trap game. Make no mistake about it. Got in at 3:30, 3:15 (a.m. Thursday night). You know, it’s funny, I asked all the guys – they basically said they went straight to bed. Because none of the coaches did."