Well, I think this evens out the lopsided victories column. We lost soundly tonight. Whether we had gone into Indy up 2-0, I pretty much expected to lose this game of the series. Going into it with the series at 1-1 makes the impending loss that much more of a potential factor in the series. We'll need to send a message, or at least stem the tide, with a needed win next game. Otherwise......I don't like our chances.
On to the recap, since NBA TV is usually a pay, add-on channel with most cable companies, when available:
The 3 players that you'd expect to send messages on offense, did so early, as Reggie Miller, Jermaine O'Neal and Paul Pierce all spoke up to account for the first 7 points of the game. Pierce with a 3pter to counter, JO's and Reggie's short jumpers. Gary Payton then scored twice in a row, taking his man into the post for short layins. This put the Celtics in the lead 7-6 with 8:44 remaining in the 1st.
The Celtics and Pacers trade moving screen calls, both on the player setting screens to shake loose shooting guards for the respective teams. Raef ends up collecting his 2nd foul and goes to the bench for Blount at the 6:09 mark. JO took Celtic defenders on a spin to the middle score, getting fouled in the process and making the conversion. Indiana now led 14-11 with 5:38 left. The Celtics took a timeout to regroup, but ended up collecting a shot clock violation on the ensueing possession. Ricky Davis entered the game around 5:13.
Gary Payton hit a cutting 'Toine underneath for a layup score to cut the Indy lead to 17-15. Blount shot a baseline airball from 10ft, but then redeemed himself by blocking a shot on the other end, which lead to AW scoring on the transition. 19-17 Indy with 2:40 left. Perkins came in for Blount (2 fls). Al Jefferson entered the game with :53 left. Ricky got a little over-aggressive on defense and fouled Fred Jones, who collected 2 freebies from the charity stripe at :32 left to make it 24-17 Indiana. Banks and Perk work a pick and roll to perfection and Perk gets to showcase a monster dunk from right up the middle. The quarter ends: 24-19 Indiana
The Celtics started Banks, West, Davis, Jefferson and Perkins in the 2nd quarter. Banks took advantage of the burn with two consecutive trips, nailing pull-up, mid-range jumpers. 26-23 Indy, with 10:24 remaining. The teams then traded some fouls, for several trips, setting a tone for how they wanted things called and the tone of play for the game. Looking back, I now see this period of play as the foreshadowing of the physical things to come (isn't hindsight great?!). Timeout at 9:02. 30-23 Indiana.
Perkins scored out of the timeout with a nice post move to get it to 30-25. During this period of the game, Perkins and JO are really trading alot of banging down on the post. JO even lowering his shoulder on one play. Perk then scored on an offensive rebound at 8:11 to make it 31-27. Jermaine returned the favor by scoring on the Celtics big man on a turn around jumper from 12ft.
Indy made a push during this stretch to get it to 37-27 by 7:19 remaining. JO then went back to work in the post, scoring on Jefferson, but taking more hacks in the process. No one was giving away fouls in the post this game. A Celtic turnover then saw JO on the recieving end of an easy up court pass for a dunk. The Pacers now lead 40-28 with 6:01 remaining in the half.
At this point, PP had only 3 fg attempts and his next attempt would be pinned by JO at 5:00. JO then hit another turnaround jumper in the lane and the Pacers were out front: 44-28 with 4:04 remaining. Pierce got to the FT line on a baseline drive and collected 2 from the charity stripe. RD cleaned up a GP miss, with an easy layin and Indy took a timeout. 3:33 remaining. Pacer lead 44-32.
The Celtics sent in PP, RD, AW, GP and Raef. JO scored on PP, but Pierce "made the foul count". 50- 36 with 1:47 remaining. RD drove, but ended up forced to take a drifting short jumper that missed. James then hit a key 3pter and the Pacers lead 53-36 with only 1:05 remaining in the half. The Pacers worked the clock and moved the ball long enough to find Dale Davis with an easy layin from the block with :30.9. The C's got a shot to get it closer,but couldn't collect.
At the Half: 55-38 Indiana
Halftime notes: We need to go to Al and Perk in the post. I think we changed some of the tone and tempo with them in the 1st half. Use them to play an inside out game with PP, RD and Raef. At the very least, Keep banging on JO. He's initiating alot of contact, maybe trying to prove he's not afraid to take contact. I think that's a mistake. Not being afraid to take contact and purposely inviting and intiating contact are two very different things. He's overdoing and that joints gonna be sore later, particularly tomorrow. If he doesn't mind us working on him, why shouldn't we, particularly when it would be to our advantage to establish a post game in the process. I think you keep testing that shoulder. 2 birds with 1 stone, IMO.
Paul Pierce started the 2nd half by missing a 3pter, tracking down the miss to retain possession and then going to the hole and scoring the old school 3pt play. He then threw a baseline kickout pass to to Raef who hit a 3pter. Timeout Indiana. 55-44 with 10:34 remaining. 'Toine hit a cutting PP for a layup at 9:46, PP took a low post isolation for a score against a hobbled Stephen Jackson at 9:09, and a PP had a steal and dunk at 8:46 to make it 60-50. However, PP then forced a 3pter on the next possession, early in the shot clock. Guess he got caught up in the moment?
Antoine hit a 3pter of an around the horn passing play that saw him spotting up in the corner. 60-53 Indiana, with 7:36 left. Raef and 'Toine then both bit hard on a pump fake by JO and are sure to make sure JO doesn't get off shot on the way down. Tempers flared as both men got away with light contact. Walker and Stephan Jackson were both given technicals. Reggie Miller, of course, took the occasion to shift the momentum back and scored on the next possession, drawing a foul on RD in the process. 65-53 Indiana, with 5:57 remaining.
Raef ended up collecting a loose ball foul while in pursuit of an offensive rebound and went to the bench for Al Jefferson at 5:08. Celtics still trail 67-53. Al immediately got into the fray of the offense. He set a screen and rolled off of it to recieve a pass which Big Al missed the dunk on. His teammates collected the ball and sent it right back into him in the post. However, Big Al got blocked on his attempt. Growing Pains.
Gary Payton got into the offense with a reverse drive and score at 3:22. Walker and Davis both hit short jumpers by the 2:00 mark and the Celtics had remained within closing distance, now trailing 67-59. Out of the timeout, Al Jefferson almost had a great block on JO, but got just enough wrist to get called for it. Fred Jones hit a 3pter with :29 left to put the Pacers ahead 71-59 and that's how the stanza ended. The Celtics blew several good scoring opportunities as normally go to guys PP and RD both came up short in scoring attempts down the stretch. To his credit, Marcus Banks drew a charge on S. Jackson. I thought it was a nice hustle play and since I'm usually tough on Banks, I want to give credit where it's due.
The Celtics started Perk, Banks, West, Jefferson and RD in the 4th. The tempo change was evident for the C's, but the results weren't any more impressive. Banks scored on a nice spinning drive to make it 71-62 with 10:17 remaining. However, the Celtics got burned badly on a post pass and pump fake by Dale Davis, who eventually collected the traditional 3pt play. RD then took a long jumper in an early shot clock and the Pacers got Miller matched up on West, which Reggie took advantage of. 76-62 Pacers, with 8:49 left.
Pierce, Walker and Payton were all back in by the 8:08 mark. Miller continued to stroke the long ball and hit a 3pter, which prompted a Boston timeout at 7:27. Boston now trailed 81-69. In close succession, Walker managed to miss a short post shot and then missed another bunny on an offensive rebound, resultant of a Payton miss. In the meantime, Jackson scores with a drive and dunk at 6:03. Indiana leads 83-62. Payton went to the hole and got the hoop and harm, but Reggie spoiled that effort with another 3pter, this time off a screen. 85-65 Indiana, with 5:39 remaining.
Doc Rivers got a technical foul called on him for daring to complain about another Reggie Miller sales job. This time Miller got away with a push off to hit the aforementioned 3pter. Timeout was called at 4:19, with Indiana leading 86-69 and Celtic hope dwindling at an exponential rate. The Celtics had managed to shoot 38% FG up to this point.
Things then got chippy, when around the 4:00 mark, JO and 'Toine got tangled up and did some pushing and other assorted contact. 'Toine got tossed and I'm betting will get fined by the league for "unnecessary contact with a referee", as he essentially pushed the one holding him back, to the side like a rag doll when he was tossed by another referee and set forth to "discuss" the matter with him.
The Celtics then subbed in 4 rookies (you can call that Doc's concession speech) and I stopped watching and started writing.
Final Score: 99-76 Indiana. Pacers lead Series 2-1.
I was disappointed with both our effort and our attack plan tonight. I don't feel we stuck with the post play of Perkins and Jefferson enough. That was working for us, we should have tried to go back to it more. It was also a bad shooting night for pretty much everyone, it seemed. Offensive movement is still largely abscent in the halfcourt set. If we're not running, we're not moving and that's a problem.
I think, in a larger sense, that this loss was good for us. It put our backs against a wall, (of sorts) and I think we play better that way. I don't think we imagine urgency well, so some real urgency might just be the kick in the pants we need to pull it back together. Here's hoping. Go Celtics.