GAME RECAP: Celtics 110, Pacers 106

Boston sweeps Indiana in the East First Round as Gordon Hayward scores 20 points and grabs three rebounds in the win.

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GAME RECAP: Celtics 110, Pacers 106

Boston sweeps Indiana in the East First Round as Gordon Hayward scores 20 points and grabs three rebounds in the win.
Apr 21, 2019  |  00:00

Turner Posterizes Hayward

April 21, 2019: Myles Turner finishes with a huge dunk over Gordon Hayward.
Apr 21, 2019  |  05:28

Postgame Wrap Up: Pacers-Celtics - April 21, 2019

The Pacers host the Celtics in game 4 of the NBA playoffs but despite the tough effort the Pacers couldn't pull it off in the 4th quarter and fall out of the playoffs with a 110-106 loss.
Apr 21, 2019  |  01:46

Postgame: Pacers Locker Room - April 21, 2019

April 21, 2019 - Pacers players Darren Collison, Thaddeus Young, Wesley Matthews and Domantas Sabonis discussed Indiana's 106-110 loss to the Boston Celtics during Playoff Game 4 Sunday afternoon at Bankers Life Fieldhouse that ended the 2018-2019 Pacers season.
Apr 21, 2019  |  02:39

Postgame: Myles Turner Game 4 Press Conference - April 21, 2019

April 21, 2019 - Myles Turner spoke with the media following the Pacers' 110-106 loss to the Boston Celtics in Game 4 on Sunday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Apr 21, 2019  |  03:28

Postgame: Nate McMillan Game 4 Press Conference - April 21, 2019

April 21, 2019 - Pacers head coach Nate McMillan speaks to the media following Indiana's 110-106 loss to the Boston Celtics in Game 4 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Apr 21, 2019  |  07:00

Evans Uses Euro Step and Lays It In

April 21, 2019: Tyreke Evans uses the euro step and gets the layup to fall in transition.
Apr 21, 2019  |  06:00

Bogey Finishes with Reverse

April 21, 2019: Bojan Bogdanovic drives past Aron Baynes and scoops it up and in.
Apr 21, 2019  |  05:45

Collison Steal Leads to Bogdanovic Flush

April 21, 2019: Darren Collison grabs the loose ball and Bojan Bogdanovic finishes with the flush.
Apr 21, 2019  |  05:12

Turner's Huge Block Leads to Collison Three

April 21, 2019: Myles Turner blocks Boston's Jaylen Brown and Darren Collison cashes in with a three-pointer at the other end.
Apr 21, 2019  |  04:48

Bogey Finishes Strong with the And-One

April 21, 2019: Bojan Bogdanovic drives and finishes with the tough basket and foul.
Apr 21, 2019  |  04:18

Postgame: Kyrie Irving Game 4 Press Conference - April 21, 2019

April 21, 2019 - Celtics guard Kyrie Irving speaks with the media following Boston's 110-106 win over the Pacers in Game 4 on Sunday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Apr 21, 2019  |  09:43

Postgame: Gordon Hayward Game 4 Press Conference - April 21, 2019

April 21, 2019 - Celtics forward Gordon Hayward discusses Boston's 110-106 win over the Pacers in Game 4 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Apr 21, 2019  |  08:47

Postgame: Brad Stevens Game 4 Press Conference - April 21, 2019

April 21, 2019 - Celtics head coach Brad Stevens discusses Boston's 110-106 win over the Pacers in Game 4 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Apr 21, 2019  |  06:09

Pacers Go Down Swinging, But Missing

by Mark Montieth
Pacers.com Writer
@MarkMontieth

The key player for the Pacers in this playoff series was the one in black, sitting courtside, making his first appearance in Bankers Life Fieldhouse since Jan. 23. Victor Oladipo was so conspicuous by his absence that he dominated the conversation in the postgame locker room following Sunday's loss to Boston, which ended their season with the harsh reality of a four-game sweep.

"You can't help but think about that," Oladipo's co-captain, Thaddeus Young, said following their 104-96 defeat. "That's our guy. That's our guy who's taken us to the promised land time and time again. When you don't have him on the court, you have to figure it out without him."

The Pacers never could quite figure it out in this series. They were competitive in all four games, had legitimate opportunities to win all four games, put forth commendable effort in all four games, but lacked the offensive execution and poise needed to beat the odds and the Celtics.

The relevant mathematics of the series is simple. The Pacers' shooting percentages dropped from the regular season in all categories — down to 40 percent from the field, 34 percent from 3-point range, and 72 percent from the foul line. Only two players improved their scoring average and accuracy from the regular season, reserves Tyreke Evans and Cory Joseph.

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Although Sunday's point total was their highest of the series, their offense never did flow long enough to win a game. The lack of virtuous patience was the most consistent problem, but at times it was too patient. And then when it ran as intended, too many wide-open shots simply were missed.

It fit the pattern of the series. The Pacers led Game 1 by seven points at halftime, led Game 2 by 12 early in the fourth quarter, and led Game 3 by five in the third period. This time they led by as many as seven in the third quarter and still by two with 8:32 left in the game.

What followed was a summary of the series.

After Jayson Tatum hit one-of-two foul shots, Evans — who averaged 15.3 points while hitting 11-of-20 3-pointers in the series — threw the ball away on an attempted pass to Domantas Sabonis on a pick-and-roll. Cory Joseph was called for a flagrant foul for breaking up Tatum's breakaway layup too aggressively, and Tatum hit both foul shots.

The Pacers' next six possessions consisted of four missed shots of varying quality and two turnovers. The Celtics, meanwhile, ran off five consecutive field goals out of their precise halfcourt offense to take an 11-point lead and make the outcome inevitable. Brownsburg native Gordon Hayward converted a three-point play off a driving shot and added a 3-pointer, fellow reserve Marcus Morris hit two 3-pointers and Tatum had a breakaway dunk off a turnover.

"They were much more poised in all four games down the stretch," Darren Collison said. "They managed to stay poised. It seemed like different guys stepped up at the right time."

Domantas Sabonis, Al Horford

Photo Credit: NBAE/Getty Images

That's where Oladipo, the Pacers' only genuine clutch player, normally enters the picture. He averaged 22.7 points in last year's seven-game opening-round series with Cleveland while hitting 40 percent of his 3-point shots, and added 8.3 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2.4 steals. Any one of those numbers would have been welcome this time around, but what was missed most was the fallback position of simply tossing him the ball and asking him to go create something with his quickness and poised shot-making.

"We can talk about team-oriented basketball, but that only takes you so far," Young said. "Every team has that guy they can throw the ball to and say, 'Hey, go get us a bucket,' and he's that guy for us."

The Pacers might have been able to make a series of this one simply by hitting a decent percentage of their layups. They hit just 11-of-25 in Game 2 in Boston, and Sunday brought further adventures at the rim. The game opened appropriately enough with Young's missed layup, the first of seven overall in the first quarter. They missed five more in the second period and four in the third.

They didn't miss any in the fourth quarter, and in fact hit 11-of-19 shots (including 4-of-6 3-pointers) on their way to 34 points, their highest-scoring quarter of the series. But Boston scored 37 by hitting 5-of-7 3-pointers and making twice as many foul shots (16) as the Pacers thanks to its flowing, attacking offense. Its defense was strong, too, and partially responsible for some of those missed layups.

"We just went up against a team that was better," Pacers coach Nate McMillan said.

Not to mention more athletic, more composed, and more confident.

"In the playoffs it's not really about plays," Myles Turner said. "We know all their plays and they know all of ours. At the end of the day you just have to hoop."

The wide-angle perspective of the Pacers' season offers a better view than of the past four games. They managed to match last year's regular season win total, 48, despite Oladipo missing 46 games, a feat that earned McMillan a place in the Coach of the Year conversation among the national media. The players also talked positively of their experience in the just-expired season because of the chemistry, camaraderie, and consistent effort that pushed them to 48.

"Playing with this group is one of the best things that happened to me," said Collison, a veteran of 10 NBA seasons, including the previous two with the Pacers.

"Still proud of this team, proud of this organization," Young said.

Time moves on, though, and moves faster in no place other than the NBA. The Pacers' roster included seven players who had significant roles at various points of the season who are upcoming free agents: starters Young, Collison, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Wesley Matthews and reserves Evans, Joseph, and Kyle O'Quinn. It's impossible to predict what changes are coming, but they are coming as surely as summer.

Players with expiring contracts always get asked about their desires in the locker room following the season's final game, but it's not really a fair or well-timed question in the heat of the moment. A player isn't likely to say he doesn't want to come back, even if that's how he's feeling, and most players aren't going to know if they'll be invited back.

President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard addressed the players in the locker room following the game, and was accompanied by General Manager Chad Buchanan and Senior Vice President of Basketball Operations Peter Dinwiddie. A busy and transformational off-season awaits them.

"We very well could look different next season," McMillan said. "I'm just appreciative of the effort the guys gave us."


Have a question for Mark? Want it to be on Pacers.com? Email him at askmontieth@gmail.com and you could be featured in his next mailbag.

Mark Montieth's book on the formation and groundbreaking seasons of the Pacers, "Reborn: The Pacers and the Return of Pro Basketball to Indianapolis," is available in bookstores throughout Indiana and on Amazon.com.

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Indiana Pacers. All opinions expressed by Mark Montieth are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Indiana Pacers, their partners, or sponsors.

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