Pacers’ win streak ends on a cold-shooting night against East-leading Celtics
The Pacers were held to a season-low 101 points in the loss. Jayson Tatum (38 points) hit as many 3s as they did. The Celtics hunted matchups and won the boards. And they'll meet again on Monday.
The tests keep coming for the Indiana Pacers.
The latest one, game 3 of a five-game homestand, just so happened to be against the best team in the NBA. If I had told you that they held the Boston Celtics to 118 points, you would think it’s a victory for the other team, right?
Not so fast.
The Pacers’ defense has improved over the last few weeks, but the Celtics were too much. The duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown combined for 69 points while the Celtics kept Tyrese Haliburton to below 20 points (17) and to his lowest assist number (seven) in 12 games — since their loss at Milwaukee. Contain Haliburton and you severely limit what this iteration of the Pacers can produce.
Both teams were on a back-to-back, coming off blowout wins the previous night. The Celtics had to travel and the Pacers did not.
The Celtics (28-7) wanted to play physical and in the half court. They aimed to prevent the Pacers from playing in transition and at their pace, racing down the other way before the Celtics could set their defense.
Then on offense, they targeted Haliburton.
“It’s no secret to it — find guys who we want to force to guard,” Jaylen Brown said postgame. “We want to put Haliburton in actions because we know how dynamite he is on offense. Make him get tired and work on defense also contributes to him slowing down a little bit. So we wanted to make sure we put him in actions as much as we possibly can because that has an affect on his offense.”
As is the case right now, Haliburton got many different looks defensively. First Derrick White, then Jrue Holiday. They were picking up full-court and making everything difficult.
“D-White and Jrue (Holiday) are probably two of the best on-ball guys in the league and they got long wings flying around,” Haliburton said. “They’re a really good defensive team, but we shot a lot of shots that we like.”
The Pacers were held to 41.3% shooting, including 19% from beyond the arc, in a 118-101 loss to the Celtics Saturday night at Gainbridge Fieldhouse that snapped their six-game win streak.
The league’s second-ranked defense held them to their season-low point total.