Celtics fend off Paul George and the Indiana Pacers, 109-100
The Boston Celtics swept the three-game series against the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night with a 109-100 win. It was a solid team effort for the Celts, who fended off Paul George's 37 points.
Al Horford was active early on for the C's. This summer's signee had three points, three boards, and a pair of dimes. Brad Stevens pulled him out after just seven minutes in an attempt to stagger his and Isaiah Thomas' minutes.
Meanwhile, Jeff Teague had his fingerprints all over the game in the first quarter. The guard scored seven of his team's 17 first quarter points to go along with two assists and a steal. The Pacers' offense became stagnant once Teague was brought to the bench.
Boston overcame six first quarter turnovers by shooting 47% from the field to take a two-point lead into the second. This shooting was well spread out, though, as Jae Crowder was the only Celtic to score more than four points. In fact, the rest of Boston's starters combined for a mere eight points (Isaiah was held to three).
The Celtics find themselves on top of the Pacers, 21-19 after one quarter. Jae Crowder is leading the way with 6 points and 3 rebounds.— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 23, 2017
Team passing was abnormally bad for the Celtics in the second frame. Indiana got in the passing lanes and bothered the C's to pick up another eight turnovers (14 for the half). That's more than their season avergae for an entire game. The Pacers took advantage of the takeaways, too:
17 of Indiana's 35 points are off turnovers. #Celtics have been porous with the ball tonight.— gary washburn (@GwashburnGlobe) March 23, 2017
Celtics fans at TD Garden were remembered why the Paul George trade talk last month were so enticing when George drilled back-to-back threes off of Celtic turnovers. He scored 14 in the half.
Luckily the C's were solid in every other department, including rebounding. They outrebounded Myles Turner and the Pacers 28-18 after the first 24 minutes were in the books. Isaiah was unusually quiet but still managed to get into double figures with 10.
Avery Bradley capped off an ugly first half for the Celtics by beating the buzzer with a three to give Boston a 49-42 lead:
AB beats the buzzer from downtown to end the half! pic.twitter.com/zUA8wo5Ya1— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 23, 2017
Boston had a successful and eventful third quarter. Isaiah got out of his funk instantly after the break, hitting two quick threes to bring his scoring total up to 16:
Remember a few minutes ago when Isaiah Thomas was off to a tough start? IT up to 16 points (4-5 on 3s) early in third. #Celtics lead 57-46.— Scott Souza (@Scott_Souza) March 23, 2017
Everyone played a part in Boston's 39-point quarter. All of the starters played great, while Kelly Olynyk and Marcus Smart provided their usual services off the bench. Even Tyler Zeller made good use of his extended role off the bench.
This beautiful play shows how things were going for the Celtics in the third quarter:
The C's are making it look easy out there! pic.twitter.com/XcDTewJbBF— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 23, 2017
How about that Larry Bird-like hockey assist by Isaiah? So nice. And then, when Smart had the ball in the closing seconds of the quarter (cause who else would be taking the last-second shot?) he got this and-1 runner to fall:
Marcus Smart! 💪 pic.twitter.com/PpRu0kPJro— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 23, 2017
Great finish to a great quarter for Boston, who found themselves with a comfortable 14-point advantage over the Pacers.
#Celtics shoot 68% in the 3Q (17-for-25) and lead #Pacers 88-74 after 3Q. Thomas 21, Crowder 15, Bradley 13; George 28, Teague 19.— gary washburn (@GwashburnGlobe) March 23, 2017
Strong defense preserved Boston's lead for the first five minutes of the final quarter until George and Teague heated up and added eight points onto the board in a hurry. This helped Indy go on a 10-0 run and cut their deficit to just seven.
As George continued his scoring to get up to 34 points, Isaiah, Horford, and Olynyk had some big buckets and stops for Boston. That trio scored the last four Celtic field goals and 10 of their last 12 points of the night. This helped seal a Celtics victory.
Other than Isaiah's 25, Bradley, Crowder, and Horford had 18, 15, and 15, respectively. Al also added eight assists. The rebounding load was divided between a handful of Celtic players yet again:
Second straight game that Horford, Olynyk and Bradley have all had 8+ rebounds.— Mark Van Deusen (@LucidSportsFan) March 23, 2017
#Celtics beats #Pacers 109-100 led by Isaiah Thomas (25), Avery Bradley (18), Jae Crowder (15) and Al Horford (15). George 37, Teague 25.— gary washburn (@GwashburnGlobe) March 23, 2017
The Phoenix Suns will be making their way into town for a matchup with the Celtics on Friday.
Follow Erik Johnson on Twitter: @erikjohnson32
Photo by @Celtics