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When I heard Nate McMillan had the Indiana Pacers playing at the eighth-fastest pace in the league, I didn't believe it.
McMillan, to the older Boston Celtics fans out there, was never known for speedy play - his stints with the Seattle SuperSonics and the Portland TrailBlazers were middling- to plodding-speed squads, and last year's Pacers were, too - but many of you watching the game tonight were likely as amazed as I was to see the speed this Indiana team was getting up and down the floor.

That fast-paced, motion-oriented, dare-I-say-modern offense seemed to throw a shorthanded Celtics team out of kilter too (Jaylen Brown could not make it from his friend Trevon Steede's funeral, and Marcus Morris has been taking it easy with back-to-backs as leg issues have limited his availability), with the Pacers jumping out and holding an early lead.

The Celtics stayed close in the first quarter mainly via Al Horford and Kyrie Irving's shooting, but both Marcus Smart (and, unfortunately) Lance Stephenson were also have unusually good shooting nights, with neither team able to harness that good fortune for some separation.
The second quarter saw the Pacers pull away as Indiana's bench caught fire, with Domantas Sabonis lighting it up from all over the floor until Kyrie stopped the bleeding late in the half, cutting the lead to 54-45 at the end of the second.

As has been the case much of the young season, the Celts came out ablaze in the third quarter, with Horford and Aron Baynes cutting the lead to four with 10:30 left in the frame. Jayson Tatum, Smart, and Daniel Theis got going midway through the third in response to a small Pacers run, and Terry Rozier gave Boston its first lead since the opening minutes with five to go in the third, 63-62.
A Horford trey beat back yet another Pacer run, and a trip to the charity stripe followed by a slick bank shot for Al shortly after gave Boston a two possession lead for the first time at just under three in the third. Irving, Rozier and Tatum would extend it to ten to close out the quarter. 

Indiana struggled to create offense without giving up buckets on the other end for much of the fourth, trading baskets with Boston behind a balanced effort from Sabonis and Myles Turner, but Irving, Baynes, Rozier and Theis continued to have their way, extending the cushion to 12 with an Irving make with just 3:30 left in the game.
The Pacers never got closer than 10, though, as Horford and Irving pushed the lead to 13 before a Turner trey and trip to the line closed the gap to eight before Irving slammed the door shut in the final minute, leaving the final score at 108-98 and gave Boston its 18th win of the season. The Celtics next play the Detroit Pistons at home at 6:30 EST Monday night, November 27th.

For more stories by Justin, click here.



Image: Boston Celtics
Follow Justin at @justinquinnn

Justin Quinn 11/25/2017 10:17:00 PM Edit
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