BOSTON – Boston and Indiana know there’s a chance they could face off next month in the playoffs, with both teams delivering the kind of defensive performance on Wednesday that highlighted two teams playing with a heightened sense of urgency fueled by tough, physical defense.
It was indeed a “Both Teams Played Hard” kind of first half which ended with Boston ahead 49-42.
Avery Bradley drained a 3-pointer that just beat the halftime horn which gave Boston its biggest lead of the half.
The tone was set by both teams with a low-scoring first quarter in which the defenses for both teams stood out.
It really should not have been that big a surprise considering how well both teams have defended since the all-star break.
Boston has the third-best defense in the NBA since the break, while the Pacers have proven to be no slouch coming in at No. 6.
After falling behind 37-36 in the second, Boston ran off eight straight to lead 44-37 which was their largest lead of the game at this point.
But the Pacers stayed within striking distance in large part because the Celtics’ unusually high number of turnovers.
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of Wednesday’s game between the Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers.
A four-time All-Star, George was scoring but the Celtics made him work a lot harder than he would like. He leads all scorers with 14 points, but has done so on 4-for-11 shooting.
Like George, the opposing team’s defense made for a rough first half. Thomas still managed to lead the Celtics with 10 points.
He really went at Isaiah Thomas to start the game, and for the most part it was working for him. He had 11 points on 4-for-7 shooting in the first half.
Solid defense and timely shot-making made for a solid first half for Crowder. He had nine points on 4-for-7 shooting.
He did more than deliver a timely shot to end the half for Boston. He had nine points on 4-for-6 shooting in addition to grabbing four rebounds while being one of the main contributors defensively to Paul George not having an efficient night shooting the ball.
By far the biggest concern Boston has heading into the second half. The Celtics average 13.2 turnovers per game. They had 14 in the first half, which led to 17 points for the Pacers. Boston’s season-high for turnovers is 24 which they racked up against Philadelphia on Feb. 15.