The Indiana Pacers are down 0-2 in their best-of-seven playoff series with the Boston Celtics after letting another close game escape at the TD Garden last Wednesday.
The Celtics might have won Game 2 99-91 but it felt more like the Pacers lost it. The Pacers struggled with their shot when it mattered the most and the Celtics were able to erase a 12-point fourth quarter deficit in around eight minutes.
Kyrie Irving exploded for 37 points, including nine in the fourth quarter, displaying leadership and Jayson Tatum also played well, adding 26 points and four rebounds in 39 minutes.
Irving and Tatum combined to make 9 of 16 3-pointers but the Pacers still held the Celtics under 100 points and they would have stolen home court advantage if it wasn’t for their late last-minute meltdown.
Indiana’s fourth quarter drought resembled the poor third quarter showing that ultimately cost them Game 1. Can the Pacers get back in this series as it moves to Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis?
Pacers Roster & Starting Lineup vs. Celtics
*Notates expected starter
C: Myles Turner*, Kyle O’Quinn
PF: Thaddeus Young*, Domantas Sabonis, T.J. Leaf
SF: Bojan Bogdanovic*, Doug McDermott
SG: Wesley Matthews*, Tyreke Evans
PG: Darren Collison*, Cory Joseph, Aaron Holiday
If the Pacers want to win Game 3, they can’t take their foot off the gas. This team was good enough to build leads but they just haven’t lasted long; they’re getting stops but they’re not taking advantage of them on the offensive end when it counts and they let the Celtics come back in both contests.
Indiana outscored Boston 29-16 in the third quarter last Wednesday and built a 12-point lead in the fourth quarter but they just couldn’t make shots despite getting looks all over the floor.
Head coach Nate McMillan put the starters back at the 7:35 mark of the fourth quarter because they were rested but they couldn’t close the game.
Domantas Sabonis has been Indiana’s best player off the bench this year, he averaged 13.8 points and 9.2 rebounds on 59.1 percent shooting and 56.3 percent from beyond the arc in 24.4 minutes over 69 games as a reserve in the regular season but he’s averaging just 4.0 points in 25.0 minutes in this series after scoring just one point on 0-for-1 shooting in 22 minutes off the bench last Wednesday.
Sabonis being uncharacteristically quiet as a reserve has played a part in both losses, he has to step his game up or this will be a short series for the Pacers. He has to be a difference-maker off the bench or his team won’t be able to keep up with Boston’s deep roster. The Pacers also have to be more aggressive when they have a lead.
Myles Turner also has to show up, he has just 13 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks in the first two games combined, way below his season averages of 13.3 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game and in this series he’s taken more 3-point tries (seven) than 2-point tries (six). He has to have a big game on Friday and his shot selection has to improve significantly.