Unlike the two higher-seeded Eastern Conference teams that began their playoff campaigns Saturday, the Boston Celtics started theirs with a victory Sunday afternoon.
But after an up-and-down regular season that often felt like an underwhelming, extended prelude to the playoffs, things didn’t feel much different in the postseason.
Yes, the Celtics beat the Indiana Pacers on Sunday, winning 84-74 in a game that was perhaps the closest thing to a rock fight that a professional basketball game has been in years. But it is going to take more than one middling performance against an overmatched opponent to prove that Boston is going to be a serious threat to emerge from the East — especially with Marcus Smart out of the picture for the foreseeable future.cheap nfl nike jerseys china
The Celtics, to their credit, did that. Much of the ugliness of the game was a credit to the Pacers, who can make this series competitive only by making it as ugly as possible.
And, boy, was this game ugly.
Boston finished the game shooting 36.7 percent from the field, with 20 turnovers. Over the past 35 years, teams that shot that poorly and committed that many turnovers had gone a combined 3-19 in playoff games before Sunday.
This shouldn’t surprise anyone; it’s hard to imagine any team thinking it can make less than 40 percent of its shots and commit 20 turnovers and still win. That the Celtics were able to only underscores how abominable the Pacers were in the second half, particularly in the third quarter.
“I think what we were doing out there today was good for us,” Pacers forward Thaddeus Young said. “We just didn’t make shots in that third quarter. That third quarter was huge for them. If you add up all the other quarters, we win. But that third quarter really killed us.”
Young’s statement was as obvious as declaring that the earth is round or the sky is blue. The Celtics outscored the Pacers 26-8 in the third, as Indiana missed its first 11 shots, committed five turnovers and didn’t get credit for a field goal until the 3:28 mark of the period — and that came on a goaltending call.
Much was made after the game about Boston’s defense in the second half as a whole — especially that third quarter — after Indiana forgot how to score. In truth, though, the Pacers’ issues were as much their own doing as anything the Celtics did.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Pacers shot 13-for-20 from the field (and 3-for-7 from 3-point range) on uncontested shots in the first half. Not surprisingly, the second-half numbers — 3-for-18 from the field and 0-for-8 from 3-point range — were far, far worse.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale
“In the third quarter, we started off with two turnovers,” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. “Then we had open looks that we didn’t knock down, and I thought we lost a little confidence.