After both teams kicked the ball around for much of the first quarter, botching transition passes and good looks at the basket, the Pacers shook off the sluggish and ground the Boston offense into dust with their defense and size. Indiana completely shut down the Boston bigs (Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk and Brandon Bass combined to go 8-28 with only 9 rebounds between them) and had the game on cruise control by halftime. Boston scored only 22 points in the paint the entire game (Indiana: 50) and without an inside attack, their mid-range game faltered.
It wasn’t just a talent problem tonight. After yesterday’s matinee against Washington, the Celtics played the basketball equivalent of a lazy Sunday drive, losing guys in transition for open threes and missing cutters in the half-court. They were a step slow much of the game, their minds, perhaps, on the coming five-day Christmas break. Indiana’s better than Boston, but not as thoroughly as tonight’s game could lead you to believe.
There’s no point in handing out a batch of C’s, D’s and F’s for this one. But let’s note the particularly poor play of Olynyk, who, but for a few nice passes, looked like a D-leaguer tonight. Also, save some scorn for Jeff Green, who was mostly comatose in a way we’re all familiar with. On the upside, Courtney Lee got 23 minutes from Brad Stevens and looked lively. And Phil Pressey did some nice things on offense, especially a late feed to a slashing Olynyk for a layup. Which is why he gets his photo on the game recap. He deserves it as much as anyone tonight.