I took some time to walk abway before writing this, otherwise, it could have come off unnecessarily harsh in tone. I'm bummed after watching this one. We failed on so many levels tonight.
The 1st quarter was pretty much the Raef LaFrentz show for the Celtics. By the 5:00 mark, Raef already had several big plays involving blocks, 3 pters, transition dunks and taking an offensive charge. The C's trailed though, 17-14 and really hadn't established any flow to the game, other than sloppy. Ricky Davis and Gary Payton both got within 8ft to score and pull the Celtics to 21-19 with 1:05 left. Timeout Pacers.
Jermaine O'Neal came out of the timeout and hit a short turn around jumper with :51 on the clock. "Big Al" Jefferson and Marcus Banks checked into the game at :38.5 and paid off almost immediately, as they combined on a late developing pick and roll, which saw Jefferson finished with 2 handed thunder, from straight up the middle. End of 1: 23-21 Pacers.
The Pacers got out to an early start, as the Celtics continued to struggle on offense. Scott Pollard ended the Pacers run with 2 consecutive short jumpers and the Celtics took a timeout at 8:23, trailing 31-23. Kendrick Perkins managed to be in the game less than a minute and collect his first foul. (Growing Pains). RD got 2 Pacers to paratroop on a nice baseline pump-fake and got himself to the FT line, where the Celtics did pretty well on the night. Unfortunetely, RD on converted the back end of the trip to the stripe. Big Al also got to the line around the mid point of the quarter. The next trip down the floor, JO took him to school in the post with an easy looking score over the rookie. Tinsley hit a jumper and the C's called timeout, now trailing 37-28 with 5:58 remaining in the half.
During the timeout, they showed a nice shot of "The Chief" Robert Parish, looking daper in what I can best describe as a dark electric blue suit. The Celtics have committed 9 turnovers already.
Antoine Walker finally got a bunny to fall for him on a penetration drive that got the Celtics to 43-30 with 4:18 remaining. RD then got to be the recipient of a nice outlet pass that afforded him one of those long, gliding, poster-quality dunks he likes to "entertain with". O'Neal then dribbled off his foot, out-of-bounds, but the Celtics did't take advantage of the turnover. GP missed a bunny after recieving a nice pass right under the basket. Tinsley then hit another mid-range jumper.
Pierce got to the line, a place he was familiar and largely effecting from tonight, at 2:39. He notched 2 FT's to make it 45-35 and then got another FT because Stephen Jackson decided to jaw with someone on the Celtics bench on the way out of the game and got a technical for his freedom of speech choice. Raef then came back to the rescue by creating a steal off of JO, which eventually led to PP's first FG of the night, with 1:39 remaining in the first half and the Celtics trailing 45-38.
Dale Davis hit a 15ft jumper (one of many significant scores for him tonight) However, it appears that PP's first FG and those trips to the FT line got him some rhythm going and he hit another long 2 pt. PP then fouled James Jones on a 3pt shot, which Jones made, but failed to convert on the FT. Davis missed on a drive attempt, but 'Toine was there to collect the garbage. 50-42 with :41 remaining. Walker gets the rebound off the Pacers attempt and got the ball up the floor to PP for the last shot. PP was stripped while driving to the hole and never got a final attempt off before the half.
At the Half: 50-42
The most significant action of the 3rd came around 9:30, when Raef picked up his 3rd foul. Stephen Jackson picked up his 4th foul only seconds later, so at least it could have been worse. Walker missed another bunny at the 9:02 mark. Payton and RD both got back into the scoring with short jumpers inside the paint. During this period, GP did a very nice job basically being a shadow for Reggie Miller. (Age may have robbed him the ability to do it all game, but GP can definetely still dial it up on defense). Dale Davis cleaned the boards of an offensive rebound and put it back for a score and the Celtics took a timeout at the 6:12 mark, trailing 60-50.
LaFrentz and Pierce combined for a great stuff block on JO and PP got to the line on the trip, after a strong drive to the hole. He converted both FT's and the Celtics trailed 62-52, with 4:57 remaining in the 3rd quarter. (PP has 4TO's thus far). Jones hit a 3pter at 4:07 and the C's took another timeout, now trailing 67-52. Pierce got back to the line and converted 2 more FT's after "pulling a Miller" while running through a bump screen. Right on cue, Reggie hits a shot fall away jumper on the next trip. 69-54 Pacers, with 3:35 remaining.
Pierce converted another 2 from charity and then Delonte West was the final recipient of an around the horn pass play that netted a 3pter from the corner. With 2:09 remaining , the Celtics trailed 69-60. The Celtics were pressing now and it was getting some results. RD forced a turnover that led to a PP jumper, but unfortunately took a bad 3pt shot, early in the clock with about 1:00 left in the stanza. Jefferson, RD and PP all got back to the FT line before the horn. End of 3: 70-65 Pacers.
Ricky Davis starter the final quarter off with some energy, as he hit a 15ft jumper, stole a ball, lost the ball, tied it up for a jump ball and then subsequently won the jump ball. He also was nice enough to miss a shot on a drive to the hole, so that Al Jefferson could work on his garbage collection skills. Pacers took a timeout, now leading 72-69 with 8:47 remaining in the game.
Anthony Johnson (another guy who hit some important shots for his team tonight) hit a baseline 3pter at 7:36. Walker hit a runner at 6:41 to keep the C's close: 75-71. Stephen Jackson hit a jumper from the elbow, but PP drove and dished to GP for an easy lay-in score. Raef then blocked another shot and 'Toine eventually scored in the transition. 77-75 Pacers, with 5:02 left. Miller stepped up an hit a 3, but PP matched the shot to keep the margin. Pierce drew an offensive foul got Davis, but then tried to do too much on the ensuing drive to the hole and turned the ball over.
Pierce temporarily redeemed himself by hitting a big shot, on an expiring shot clock to get the Celtics to 82-80 with 2:58 remaining. Stephen Jackson then stepped up and hit a big 3pter to provide the Pacers some buffer at 85-80. Pierce decided to drive on the entire Pacers team, but drew a foul and hit the backend of the charity visit. Pierce turned the ball over on a drive and then on the next possession, the Celtics ran an isolation play for him on the post, to which the Fleet center rained down light, but steady boos. Raef and 'Toine then took turns taking bad 3pt shots.
The Celtics called a timeout with :34.8 left, trailing 85-81 and Dale Davis is at the FT line on the return to the court. Davis hit 1 of 2 FT's to give the Pacers an 86-81 lead. Banks displayed his incredible speed with a dribble score at :28. The Celtics then quickly fouled Johnson, but Johnson hit both FT's to keep Indy just out of reach 88-83 with 27.6 remaining. The Celtics then confound everyone, when they waste all but :09 seconds of the remaining game, taking bad 3pt shots. Pierce made a meaningless bucket before the horn, but the Celtics lose.
Final Score: 90-85. Pacers lead Series: 3-2.
Post game thoughts: We blew this game. We had the advantages: 'Toine coming back, we're back home, we've got momentum. We blew an opportunity to close this series out the easy way. Now we've got to go the hard route out of the first round and I just want to say: Why, Why must we learn everything the hard, slow way?
We found no real offensive flow tonight. There was a lot of slow-pace, 1 on 1 matchup plays. There was some effort to run, during select spurts of the game, but the running game never kept momentum long. I am pissed at the decision to make stopping us in the crunch so easy to do. I don't know if it was Doc or Paul making the decision on all those late 4th quarter ISO's, but I'm not a fan of them, when it's obvious they're coming. We should have tried to use more of the team tonight. Sometimes it seemed like we were leaning on PP too much and most of his points were coming from the FT line. I think he only had 6 FG attempts in the first 3 quarters. He either tried to or was sent to do too much in the 4th. We needed to diversify more in this game and we didn't do it. The offense didn't move enough for my tastes, particularly in the half-court set, when we often looked like we were standing around waiting for the person with the ball to make thier move. Lots of turnovers tonight too. You can't win if you can't hold onto the ball.
We could have won this game, even though we trailed almost all of it. We didn't play anywhere near our potential and we still could have won. There's something positive to take out of tough loss like this. Shake your heads tonight boys, but tomorrow it's time to regroup and start planning for Game 6. Going into Indy isn't going to be pleasant.
I Still Bleed Green. Go Celtics!