GAME RECAP: Celtics 108, Pacers 98

Kyrie Irving drops 25 points and six assists as the Celtics get the win over the Pacers.

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GAME RECAP: Celtics 108, Pacers 98

Kyrie Irving drops 25 points and six assists as the Celtics get the win over the Pacers.
Nov 25, 2017  |  01:42

Postgame: McMillan Press Conference - Nov. 25, 2017

Nov. 25, 2017 - Pacers head coach Nate McMillan addresses the media following Indiana's 108-98 loss to the Celtics at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Nov 25, 2017  |  05:03

Sabonis With The Put Back

Domantas Sabonis is there for the put back after Darren Collison missed the three.
Nov 25, 2017  |  00:20

Postgame: Pacers Locker Room - Nov. 25, 2017

November 25, 2017 - Pacers players Darren Collison, Thaddeus Young, and Myles Turner give their thoughts on Boston's third quarter surge and how they plan bouncing back from Saturday's loss at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Nov 25, 2017  |  02:09

Lance Ends First with Three

November 25, 2017 - Lance Stephenson sizes up his defender and knocks down pulls three with just seconds remaining in the opening quarter.
Nov 25, 2017  |  06:36

Lance Throws Down

November 25, 2017 - Pacers guard Lance Stephenson drives down the lane and throws down a vicious dunk for two of his 12 first-quarter points.
Nov 25, 2017  |  06:11

Thad with the Swat

November 25, 2017 - Pacers forward Thaddeus Young rises up for the rejection.
Nov 25, 2017  |  05:50

Sabonis Fadeaway Jumper

Domantas Sabonis spins and drains the fadeaway jumper.
Nov 25, 2017  |  00:18

Turner For Three

Darren Collison goes between the legs and dimes it to Myles Turner for the three.
Nov 25, 2017  |  00:16

Collison Drains The Triple

Darren Collison knocks down the three after the lob from Thaddeus Young.
Nov 25, 2017  |  00:12

Gotham's Drew Powell Talks Pacers & Batman

November 25, 2017 - Indiana native and Drew Powell, who portrays Solomon Grundy on hit show Gotham, talks about his love for the Pacers and his work on the Batman based show.
Nov 25, 2017  |  03:03

Celtics Show Pacers a Better Lesson Plan

by Mark Montieth Writer

It's all relative. It's one thing to win five consecutive games, two of them over the second- and third-best teams in the Eastern Conference. But it's quite another thing to beat the best team in the league.

Boston came to town and beat the Pacers for the fourth consecutive time Saturday night, and they did it the way they've been doing it: with elite execution at both ends of the court. They neutered the Pacers' offense and shredded their defense in the third quarter, turning a once-raucous Bankers Life Fieldhouse into a study hall.

Which was good, because the Pacers had lessons to learn.

"Their team showed us tonight there's another level in the NBA you have to get to," Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. "That's what we're working towards — being able to play with that type of pressure defensively, with the same pace offensively. We're trying to get there."

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This wasn't a "bad loss" by any means. It was a bonus game, really, one the Pacers were supposed to lose based on the team's relative records, and one they saw as a measuring stick. By not measuring up, they reminded themselves how far they have to go to become a team capable of contending for anything meaningful.

Their leading scorer, Victor Oladipo, sat out with a bruised right knee, which he suffered late in Friday's victory over Toronto. His status for Monday's game with Orlando remains uncertain, but he was on the bench during the game and walking normally afterward in the locker room. That didn't qualify as an excuse, however, because Boston was without its second-leading scorer, Jaylen Brown, who was in Atlanta following the death of a close friend, not to mention prized free agent Gordon Hayward, who was lost for the season in the opener.

The Celtics dominated the third period 37-16 to turn a nine-point deficit into a 12-point lead. It merely amplified their season's trend. They had outscored opponents by an average of one-tenth of a point in the first half entering the game, but had outscored them by 7.2 in the third. It's safe to say coach Brad Stevens doesn't give Gipper speeches at halftime, but he obviously gets his players to ramp up their defense and hone their offense.

"We were just being resilient as usual," said Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving, who led his team with 25 points.

They were edgier, too. The Pacers ran up a lead that peaked at 13 points in the second quarter with deadly shooting. They hit 6-of-12 3-pointers and 56 percent of their overall field goal attempts. Lance Stephenson, starting in place of Oladipo, danced and pranced his way to 14 points, hitting 5-of-7 shots, and kept the volume turned up.

The Celtics gradually walked down the Pacers in the third period in death-by-a-thousand-cuts fashion, forcing them into forced shots to avoid shot clock violations and working themselves free for endless open shots. They hit 14-of-18 in the period and finished the game with 56 percent accuracy, the first game this season in which they've hit more than half of their shots.

It all started on the defensive end, however.

"We had our heads down with their pressure as opposed to moving the ball," McMillan said. "We just didn't handle the pressure well. We couldn't set screens because they did a good job of jamming the ball and getting over the screens. You have to give them credit. It was a night for us to learn...there's another level when you meet up with a team like that."

At the next level, teams attack defensive pressure by maintaining their pace of play, and don't turn the ball over 20 times, as the Pacers did.

"We had a lot of self-inflicted mistakes, taking bad shots, and getting up against the (shot) clock," Thaddeus Young said.

"We just got away from doing what we need to do to keep ourselves in games. We basically walked it up the whole game. We weren't doing what we were supposed to be doing, and that's move the basketball. That's what got us up in the first half."

The most encouraging element of the game for the Pacers was the play of Myles Turner, but he was discouraged by being forced out by a couple of bad calls. Turner finished with 19 points on 7-of-9 shooting, 12 of them coming in the fourth quarter. He had just five in the first half, when he was limited to 14 minutes by three offensive fouls.

The third one was deserved, a mindless play in which he charged toward the basket in transition and ran over a stationary Celtics defender. The first two, however, were blown calls, as Irving ran into his screens and threw his head back as if Turner had bumped him. A referee admitted the mistake to McMillan at halftime after reviewing video.

"I guess he looked at it at halftime and said we were right," McMillan said. "That's a play a few years ago guys were getting away with. I thought the official reacted more to the so-called contact as opposed to Myles being there and setting the screen."

Turner grimaced when told of the referee's admission, but refused to criticize the officiating. McMillan recognized it as a superstar player getting the benefit of the doubt.

"Kyrie did a good job of selling it," he said.

The Pacers had done a good job selling themselves as a rising team over the past 10 days. They still see themselves that way, based on their upbeat postgame comments, but they learned a valuable lesson on Saturday: their product still needs a lot of refinement.

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