A depleted Boston Celtics fell to the Indiana Pacers, 99-97, on Sunday night in the first of back-to-back home games for the C’s.
#NEBHInjuryReport: Brad Stevens says of Jaylen Brown (concussion), “He’s making a lot of progress but I don’t anticipate him being on the court this week.”— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 11, 2018
But the Celtics would later find themselves without Kyrie Irving (left knee soreness) just after halftime.
And with the Brown and Horford out, both Marcus Smart and Marcus Morris would get the starts in their place. Plus rookie guard Kadeem Allen (Maine Red Claws) got the call to join the C’s shortened bench.
Coming into the game, the Celtics were 6-1 since the All-Star break, which was almost a month ago. And the Pacers have been creeping up the Eastern Conference standings with a 4-1 record over their last five.
The C’s started off with a 7-2 run in the first three minutes of the game and eventually took a 25-24 lead into the second.
At the end of the first, Marcus Smart led all Celtics scorers with six points, three boards and three assists. As a team through one, the C’s shot a favorable 47 percent from the field and 57 percent from three.
After periods of scoreless action, the Celtics eventually went on a 16-to-6 run to take a 48-36 lead with 1:37 to play in the second.
The Celtics would eventually take a 50-40 lead into the half.
During the first half, the C’s shot 44 percent from the field, while knocking down 7-of-17 three-pointers. The Pacers shot 37.8 percent from the field and 36.4 percent from three. And the Celtics out-rebounded the Pacers 27-21.
Coming out of the half, Terry Rozier III replaced Kyrie Irving, who would end up being done for the night with left knee soreness. Irving finished the game with seven points (3-6 FG) and four boards.
#NEBHInjuryReport Coach Stevens says Kyrie told them he was having similar soreness as he did in the Houston game at halftime. Stevens believes it’s just general soreness but will do whatever testing necessary.— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 12, 2018
The Pacers came out halftime on a roll, going on a 20-7 run, to take a 60-57 lead with more than six minutes to play. But the Celtics responded with a pair of baskets to take a 61-60 lead halfway through the third.
But the Pacers kept up the pace through the rest of third, out-scoring the C’s by 14, to take a 74-70 lead in the fourth.
And the Pacers can thank Victor Oladipo for scoring 13 of his 20 points at the time, just in the third quarter alone.
The Celtics came out flat in the fourth. With three minutes to play in the fourth, the C’s had only made only three of their 13 field goals attempts.
But things looked to be turning around the Celtics with Rozier knocking one down from deep to bring the C’s within two with a minute to play.
Scary Terry making it rain! ???? pic.twitter.com/e4T3te0a5p— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 12, 2018
Indiana follows up with a missed basket and a foul on Tatum, sending him to line, shooting two. He’d go onto knock down both to tie things up at 95 with 36.5 seconds to go.
The Pacers ended up scoring on their next possession on a Myles Turner layup, to take a 97-95 lead.
After a missed shot by Rozier, Oladipo knocks down a pair of freebies to put the Pacers up by four with 10.4 seconds left on the clock.
Jayson Tatum finishes strong at the basket to bring the C’s within two points with 1.9 seconds to play in the game.
On the following inbounds play by the Pacers, Marcus Morris was able to draw an offensive foul on Oladipo, giving the Celtics one last shot to at least tie things up.
It all came down to a final possession for the Celtics. Smart inbounded the ball to Rozier, who took the final shot, which happened to be a fade-away jumper from just inside three. Rozier’s shot would come up short, as the Pacers go onto finish off a second-half comeback with a 99-97 win.
Rozier's prayer falls short....Pacers win 99-97.— Sean Grande (@SeanGrandePBP) March 12, 2018
Just the third time in franchise history the Celtics have been involved in a full season series in which the road team won every game. pic.twitter.com/6Yex6fn29m
The Pacers shot almost 10 percent better in the second half, while knocking down 54.5 percent of their three-point attempts and 90 percent of their free throws. And the C’s would finish the game shooting 42 percent from the field and 32.4 percent from three.
Oladipo led all scorers with 27 points (10-20 FG), three rebounds and four assists.
Turner would finish the game with a 19-point, 10 rebound, double-double.
Smart filled the stat sheet for the C’s with 20 points (6-12 3PT), seven rebounds, eight assists and four steals. But Tatum wasn’t far behind with 19 points (7-8 FT) and five rebounds.
The Celtics bench combined for 35 points, with Allen being the only one not to score a basket for the C’s. And Rozier led the way with 16 points (3-8 3PT) and six rebounds.
UP NEXT: The Celtics (45-21) will welcome the Washington Wizards (38-29) to the TD Garden Wednesday night for a primetime matchup. Catch the call of the game with Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell, live on 98.5 The Sports Hub. Pre-game coverage begins at 7:30 p.m., with tip-off set for 8:00 p.m.
— By John ‘The Dude’ Hardiman, 985TheSportsHub.com
John Hardiman is a Digital Producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for John? Hit him up on Twitter @HardiDude or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.