It was not the prettiest evening of basketball Indiana’s ever seen, but the Celtics gave themselves a shot.
That shot was soon swallowed by a stifling defense that left Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley no breathing room on the final possession. Bradley’s 3-point attempt fell well short, and the C’s lost, 100-98. They dropped to 1-3 on the season with a brutal stretch over their next six games: Wizards, at Bucks, Pacers, Hawks, at Thunder and at Rockets.
Thomas led the C’s with 27 points and seven assists, and Bradley added 21 points despite an injured right index finger. Joe Crowder (12 points), Evan Turner (11 points) and David Lee (10 points) also reached double figures. Paul George led the Celtics with 26 points, 10 rebounds and a wide-open 3 that broke a 93-93 tie with 2:13 remaining.
For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.
STUD OF THE NIGHT: Isaiah Thomas.
In the second quarter alone, Thomas scored 14 points on seven shots — including seven of the C’s final nine points of the half — to keep the anemic Celtics‘ offense alive enough to avoid a double-digit deficit at the break. Starting at point guard for the first time in his Celtics tenure, Thomas acted as a playmaker in place of the injured Marcus Smart (big toe sprain), carving through the defense and finding shooters on the wings and cutters in the lane.
DUD OF THE NIGHT: Amir Johnson.
It’s a tough call between Kelly Olynyk, Terry Rozier, Tyler Zeller and Amir Johnson, who finished a combined 0-for-13, but we’ll go with Johnson. In his first start of the season, Johnson missed both of his shots and committed a pair of turnovers while grabbing four boards in 20 minutes. I’m a big proponent of Johnson starting because of his rim-protecting and floor-spacing ability, and there may be a reason he struggled against the Pacers. Johnson favored his left leg limping to the bench early, and while he returned for a bit, he didn’t play the final 15-plus minutes.
VINE OF THE NIGHT:
R.J. Hunter got the first action of his NBA career, and dad Ron Hunter wasn’t happy his son got the rookie treatment on this call. Hunter knocked down the first shot of his young career, and while he committed four fouls in 12:41, he played solid defense. Good things seemed to happen when Hunter was on the floor, and he finished a plus-eight.
WHINE OF THE NIGHT: Depth perception.
Stevens played all 12 of his available players in the first two quarters, and as Tommy Heinsohn mentioned at halftime, the Celtics seemed disjointed as a result. Only after Stevens cut the rotation down did the C’s find a rhythm. And all of this came with Smart sidelined. Stevens has some tough calls to make, but sooner or later he’s going to have decide which bigs and which guards he wants to use in a regular rotation — and stick with them.
STAT OF THE NIGHT: 21 offensive rebounds.
The Pacers grabbed 21 offensive boards on 46 missed shots, a big reason they were able to score 100 points and beat the Celtics while shooting just 38.5 percent from the field. Throw in 19 turnovers by the C’s, leading to 22 Pacers points, and Indiana had a total of 40 extra possessions. It’s actually amazing the C’s only lost by two points.
@ OF THE NIGHT: