The Celtics dealt with their first back-to-back of the season tonight against the Pacers. Boston's starters got off to another early deficit. In a sign of things to come, Boston struggled shooting the ball in the first. Evan Turner carried the offense in the first quarter and lead the team with 6 points.
The Celtics' defense was rough in the quarter as well. The Pacers had little trouble getting to the rim, and dropped 31 points in the first. On that note, Paul George is still really good. He played the entire first quarter and capped it off with an amazing shot over Smart and Hunter.
David Lee has been looking better since the first few games, and that progress continued tonight. He scored in all fashions during his first stint off the bench: A dunk after an offensive rebound, a few pick-and-roll finishes, and layup after a post-up. He finished the half with 9 points and 5 boards.
Stevens went with the "Hack a Mahinmi" method of defense towards the end of the second half. This worked decently well and prevented Indiana from getting any offensive rhythm. Boston's own offense went scoreless for about three minutes, but really came together to finish the half strong.
The defensive effort was much better in the second, and Boston pulled to within 2 points at the end of the half.
Evan Turner started the third on fire, making his first three shots. Sully added another five points after that, and the Celtics found themselves with the lead. Keeping with the pattern of runs, Paul George then rattled off nine unanswered points to bring the Pacers right back.
The third quarter then turned into a parade of foul shots. The refs were pretty eager to blow the whistle, which made for a plodding stretch of play. The Celtics only made one field goal after the 9-minute mark in the quarter. The Celtics allowed a handful of offensive rebounds, which gave the Pacers some needed second chance points.
Boston trailed by 7 points heading into the fourth. Both Rozier and Hunter started the quarter for Boston. Rozier mad his best play of the night converting a nice driving layup. Hunter buried a deep three on the next possession to show off his range.
Evan Turner continued making shots in the fourth. He was easily Boston's best offensive player tonight, finishing with 20 points.
During crunch time, Marcus Smart drew the unfortunate duty of guarding Paul George. That's a huge size mismatch, and George took advantage of it. He scored 4 points and added an assist before Stevens took Smart out of the game.
On the other end, Boston was too sloppy with the ball to make a late run at the Pacers' lead. After Turner's basket at the 7:30 mark cut the lead to 3, Boston committed 6 turnovers in just 4 minutes. Indiana was able to stretch the lead out to double digits and coast the rest of the way.
3 Point Shooting
The Celtics really struggled from deep. They only made 16%. They were getting good looks too, but couldn't knock them down. Shooting that poorly on 24 attempts makes it difficult to win games. They just couldn't find enough scoring elsewhere to compensate.
Big Man Rotation Watch
Zeller once again failed to see the court. Amir Johnson also had a lengthy stint on the bench after his first quarter minutes.