Coming into this game, the Celtics were heavy favorites despite a report that Al Horford was not going to play because of sickness. By the end of the game, three more Celtics were put on the injury report. Having already lost Gordon Hayward for (allegedly) the rest of the season and Jaylen Brown for a week in their game against the Timberwolves, this is the last thing Boston needs. Kyrie did not play in the second half to do his nagging knee injury, Marcus Smart sprained his thumb late in the first half, and Daniel Theis tore a meniscus trying to guard Victor Oladipo late in the 4th quarter, which subsequently ended his season. This news overshadowed the outcome of the game as the Celtics fell to the Pacers 99-97.
For people who are in the “Pay Marcus Smart” camp (myself included), the game was a great showing point. Marcus scored twenty points on 46% shooting, seven rebounds, eight assists, and four steals. Jayson Tatum helped stuff the stat sheet as he put up a respectable 19/5/3/1/2. The Celtics are really going to need this type of production from Tatum if Brown and Irving’s injuries keep nagging at them. The Celtics held a 50-40 lead going into the second half, but without Kyrie, the ball movement and the shooting took a turn for the worse. Also, after only allowing 40 points in the entire first half, the Pacers came out and put up 34 points in the third quarter and never looked back.
On the other side of the court, the Indiana Pacers came into this game with not a single person on their injury report. Victor Oladipo continued to put up numbers during his break out season, lighting it up with 27/3/4/3/1. Also, he was the only starter to have a positive +/- throughout this game for Indiana. While Miles Turner was only a +/- 0, he is finally shaping out to be the guy that the Pacers need him to be. He produced a double-double with 19 points on just 13 shots and 10 rebounds. Bojan Bogdanovic was out there shooting great, as he made 4/5 threes and ended up with 14 points. The Pacers shot better from three (54.5% compared to 32.4%), the free throw line (90% compared to 81%), and total shooting percentage (48.1 compared to 42.0) than the Celtics, and that is a winning recipe.
With this win and with a little help from the Lakers, the Pacers moved ahead of Cleveland in the standings by half of a game. If the season ended today, this matchup would be a preview of the Eastern Conference semifinals if seeds hold. But luckily for the Celtics, who are now three and a half games behind the Raptors and the top spot in the East, there’s still a few weeks to get everyone healed up and make a push for the one seed.