The Boston Celtics lost a chippy game to the Indiana Pacers on Sunday night, 128-107. Boston just couldn’t get shots to fall, and at the same time, Indiana notched their fourth-highest-scoring game of the season. As Hannah Montana would say, it was the best of both worlds… just not for the Celtics.
Indiana, who got a new look at the trade deadline, has been playing a whole new brand of basketball. They play fast, they take more threes, and as the C’s saw on Sunday, they play hard.
Abby Chin of NBC Sports Boston asked head coach Ime Udoka if he was going to chalk up the loss as just “one of those nights." Instead, Udoka redirected his response, choosing to touch on the Celtics’ lack of physicality.
“I think we didn’t come out as physical as we wanted to. What we showed at halftime was the lack of physicality, a connection and just allowing them to get in the rhythm and make some easy shots early. And then, it kind of snowballed, where they did hit some tough ones when we did defend better.”
The Pacers played a very hard-nosed brand of basketball on Sunday, and the refs had to get involved multiple times. One of the more notable interactions came at the end of the game when Udoka and Marcus Smart picked up a pair of techs.
When asked about the incident and what Smart was saying to the refs, Udoka stated that he was merely apologizing toward the end of the conversation.
“Regarding Marcus talking to them, I think he said he was apologizing after. Wanted to get his point across I guess. So that’s what he said when I went up to him, I said, 'you know, let it go.' And he said, 'no, I’m apologizing for the future.'"
Smart and Udoka weren’t the only ones who earned technical fouls, though, as Jaylen Brown received one earlier in the contest. Goga Bitadze posted up a bit too hard, and Brown took exception. He shoved Bitadze to the ground and things got heated.
Upon further review, they called Brown for a tech and it went to a jump ball - no foul was called on Bitadze. After the game, Brown explained the incident and also mentioned that the refs admitted to missing the call after the game.
“I mean, they missed a call. It’s pretty obvious. They even said it after the game, they watched it and reviewed it. That’s an offensive foul. That’s a big dude. I feel like he was trying to put something behind that, trying to send a message. So that’s why I was upset. You can’t miss a call like that. Officiating got me that tech.”
The referees were fielding complaints from both teams all night long, but the missed call on Bitadze struck a nerve with Brown. He said that letting plays like that one go is what causes a game to spiral out of control.
“You can’t let a play like that go. That’s where my frustration was. You can’t miss that. That’s how stuff gets escalated, etc. You can’t let somebody get away with that. That’s how the game gets x, y, z.”
In the end, the loss to Indiana was only Boston’s second in the entire month of February. Considering where they were at the beginning of the calendar year, that’s some solid progress.
They’ll have a chance to get back on track when they take on the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night. The game tips off at 7:30 p.m. at TD Garden.