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Celtics outpaced by the Pacers 102-101

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Boston’s win-streak ends at 4 after contest against an Eastern Conference foe.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Indiana Pacers Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Jaylen Brown (12 points) returned to the lineup Saturday night as the Boston Celtics fell to the Indiana Pacers 103-99 despite Marcus Morris’ 23 points. Victor Oladipo dropped 24 points and 12 rebounds and the game-winning shot.

The game started out with a lot of 3-pointers. Coming off of a franchise-record 24 3-pointers in Thursday night’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks, Boston came out of the gate looking to recreate the magic.

That didn’t happen, and the Pacers jumped out to a 7-0 lead. Despite a sloppy start, the Celtics pulled it together and this really turned into a showdown between two of the better teams in the Eastern Conference.

Marcus Morris continued his dominance to start the season, pacing the Bench With Attitude with a season-high 23 points. In just the first quarter, the BWA outscored the Pacers bench 11-0. Boston finished the first quarter on a strong note, entering the second frame with a 28-18 lead. In the first frame, the Cs shot just 40% and 20% from 3. It looks a lot better when juxtaposed with Indiana’s 30% shooting ad 14.3% from 3 in that same time.

The first quarter was punctuated by this putback slam by Jayson Tatum (14 points):

The second quarter got off to a sketchier start, with Indiana’s bench finally waking up on the second night of a back-to-back. There was one moment, however, where this humble blogger’s heart stopped. If you’re familiar with Terry Rozier’s game, you’re familiar with the fact that his alley-oop attempts occasionally have disastrous results. With Gordon Hayward running the fast break and with the ball in Rozier’s arms, the natural progression of things was predictable.

Thankfully, no Haywards were injured in the making of this highlight.

The second quarter belonged to the Pacers, with them outscoring the Celtics by 10, leading to a 45-45 tie at the half. Kyrie Irving (18 points) fought foul trouble a bit, while Victor Oladipo shot just 2/9 from the field by the halfway mark. Boston continues to go against the grain of the modern NBA with absurd point totals by hunkering down on defense in long, grind-it-out games, and this contest against Indiana was no different.

The third quarter was a tight, back-and-forth affair. Indiana came alive even more so than in the second quarter, led by Bojan Bogdanovic (16 points). The Celtics looked a little discombobulated, turning the ball over and offering a couple of uncharacteristically open looks on defense.

Marcus Morris continued to play like the greatest basketball player in existence as the Celtics and the Pacers carried their stalemate into the fourth quarter, ending the third in a 72-72 tie.

The Pacers really did make it interesting down the stretch. Marcus Smart checked in for a crucial defensive possession with just over a minute, and he delivered immediately, forcing a turnover by Oladipo. Because of this, Irving was able to check in and hit a dagger 3-pointer. Except it wasn’t the dagger because Oladipo came back and traded another big shot. It was on the next possession when Irving came back and hit another dagger to firmly put Boston on top.

I’ll be honest with you, I started writing this recap as if we won. It looked like we were going to win. We didn’t win. Here’s why:

TL;DR: The Celtics played a really good team and lost right at the end. Fun game; let’s do it again sometime with a different result. Boston (now 6-3) will move on to play the 7-1 Denver Nuggets on Monday in Denver at 9PM EST.