The Celtics were 17 points less than three minutes behind the Pacers in the third quarter on Tuesday evening. Such a big lead can go away instantly in the NBA, but the Celtics had done little to create the impression that it would.
Her offense had no rhythm and her defense once again allowed an opponent to hit her from all angles.
But sparked by Jayson Tatum, who went through many NBA comebacks, and rookie Payton Pritchard, who didn’t, the Celtics went on a 38-12 run and eventually claimed a 116-111 win at Indianapolis.
« We’ve been playing with a bit of desperation since we were 17. « Celtics striker Jaylen Brown said, » And didn’t mean to go out like this. « . â ????
Tatum scored 17 of his 27 points in the second half and had 11 rebounds. Pritchard had 10 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists from the bench and Brown got 20 points.
The Celtics moved within 94-83 at the start of the fourth. After a Tatum runner and Javonte Green alley-oop, Pritchard drove for consecutive layups, the second a 3-point game that was part of the 11-0 run that tied the score at 94.
Pritchard turned the ball around with Boston in the lead, 104-100, in the middle of the quarter but then chased Victor Oladipo and stole the ball back, resulting in a Marcus Smart 3-pointer.
The Celtics led by up to 9 points before the Pacers made one final push and drew within 111-109. They had the ball with 43 seconds left, a good chance of getting two possessions without having to rot, but it took them too long to get on their offensive.
Then, after a break, Brown broke a surrender on top of the key and stormed off a layup for everyone but to seal it.
â € œThe common thread of coach Brad Stevensâ € ™ s press conferences after wins, losses and drills was this: The Celtics still have a long way to go. Sure, the eventual return of Kemba Walker will speed the process up, but it is clear that these next few weeks will be full of trial and error and the hope of finding something that clicks consistently.
« We’re in the process of figuring out some things that we think might work for our team and we’re going to have to experiment. « Stevens said. â € œWe are different from what we were before. And to win this game against a team with such talent that is so good after losing a close game the other day is a good step, but it’s a step. â ????
? Tatum faced constant pick-and-roll traps during the first half, and this approach was something he should get used to. He didn’t handle the extra attention particularly well at first. He threw the ball away on one possession, then got stuck and had to throw it on another of Domantas Sabonis’. He stepped out of the game later in the opening quarter.
It was less of a problem in the second half, however, and Tatum said the key was playing more of the ball and looking for open teammates before doubles came in.
« I feel like we’re too good a team for this to happen, » he said. But if they want to do it, do the right game, let other guys shoot openly. We did that. â ????
The Pacers shot 51. 2 percent off the field, so the Celtics have let all four opponents shoot 50 percent or better this season. But maybe Boston can build on the second half of Tuesday’s game. The Pacers shot 56. 1 percent total and 47. 4 percent to 3-pointers in the first half and then made 46. 5 percent of their shots and 21. 4 percent of their 3-pointers after the break.
« I just thought we had a little more time to play defensively. « Stevens said. More reaction to the threat, more manageable, more aggressive on the ball, all that stuff that we do well when we are good. â ????
In the fourth quarter, the Pacers missed all six of their 3-pointers and made seven sales.
“We’re an organization and a team that wants to hang our hats on the defensive side of the floor,” Brown said, “And by the fourth quarter, I felt we did a pretty good job and done enough to to win. « . â ????
? It seems Pritchard’s hot start is no accident. Stevens again showed great confidence in him in key situations, including the fact that he was on the floor for 1 minute and 40 seconds of the fourth quarter when the Celtics made their comeback.
Yes, he’s two months older than Tatum, but he was drafted a little over a month ago and guided through an accelerated preseason with much less preparation than beginners typically get. It didn’t matter. Pritchard is already in good command of Boston’s pick-and-roll crime and showed it off Tuesday.
« He’s ready for that stuff, » Stevens said. « He’s doing the right game, he’s fooling so he can get in and use his body to finish like we’ve seen on a few occasions. « . He’s the guy who knows how to play. We’re awfully small when he’s late with this group sometimes, but I thought he did a good job on both ends tonight. â ????
Pritchard, whose two big layups in the fourth quarter were central to the comeback, said it’s already easier for him to find different angles to attack games like this.
« It doesn’t appear on the statistics sheet, but Pritchard committed three fouls on four holdings in the fourth quarter and helped Boston earn the free-throw penalty for the game. « s last eight minutes. The Celtics took 16 free throws in the fourth and 37 in the game. You have tried more than 37 free throws twice in the past season, including the playoffs.
? Tristan Thompson gave the Celtics a jolt in the first quarter. He scored a goal on Boston’s first possession and then went on to do a number of things, from a good give-and-go with Daniel Theis to a fight to keep Sabonis in front of him. He finished the first quarter with 8 points, 7 rebounds and 1 assist.
« Brown was the Celtics » best player so far. He’s felt in control and at ease in so many situations, from the pick and roll attack to the attack and the right game once he’s got to the edge, whether he’s finished or finds an open man. Earlier in Brown’s career, it sometimes looked like his body couldn’t keep up with what his head wanted of him. Now he’s playing at his own pace.
Boston Celtics, Indiana Pacers, Jayson Tatum, Domantas Sabonis and Brad Stevens
World News – USA in Indianapolis and other observations – The Boston Globe
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