Tonight, the Boston Celtics showed one of the best teams in the NBA that they are capable of playing the type of basketball that gets you into the playoffs.
Then the first half ended, and the dream turned into a nightmare as the Indiana Pacers dominated the Celtics in the second half to send the Cs to their sixth-straight loss, 97-82.
Boston played such a good first half, shooting 59%, committing only seven turnovers and putting 50 points up on the scoreboard – that it’s clear that one of two things happened at halftime:
1. Boston assumed the second half would be just as easy as the first, and grew complacent; or
2. Head coach Brad Stevens, seeing that his team was exhausted, ordered his players to take a small nap during the intermission, a nap that most of the Celtics never fully woke up from.
You make the call!
Seriously, we all knew Indiana was a great team heading into this thing – they are tied with the Spurs for the best record in the NBA, after all – so it’s no surprise that the Pacers turned up the intensity and clamped down defensively on the Celtics in the second half. Boston committed 11 turnovers in just the third quarter alone as they watched an 8-point halftime lead turn into a 9-point deficit. You have to give the Pacers a lot of credit for turning the tables on the Cs . . . but as Stevens put it,
Well, we paced them (the Pacers) the ball too much.
Not every turnover that the Celtics committed was due to Indiana’s play, as the Cs threw some terrible passes, most notably a few bad passes down court to wide open players who should have had uncontested layups. The Pacers dropped in 30 points off of Boston’s turnovers – that will kill you every night.
But hey – at least the Celtics ended their streak of allowing opponents to top the century mark! That has to count for something.
One great half of basketball will get you . . . not very much in the NBA. Hopefully, Boston sees all of those turnovers in the sleep tonight and come out angry and ready to to atone for their mistakes tomorrow night against the Atlanta Hawks. Check back in with us here tomorrow, as I share my three stars for tonight’s game, get you up to speed on rookie Kelly Olynyk’s ankle injury, and provided you with full game coverage of the Celtics and the Hawks in Hotlanta!