Shots weren’t falling, turnovers were racking up at a ridiculous rate and well, things didn’t look good for the Boston Celtics most of the night.
And there they were, with the ball and a chance to tie the game or force overtime.
Brad Stevens has gained quite the reputation for his out-of-time-out plays near the end of games.
But just like the team’s ball-handling and shot-making in the first half, things down the stretch didn’t go as they were drawn up as the Celtics lost a hard-fought 100-98 game to the Pacers.
Indiana’s Paul George had 26 points and Jordan Hill had a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Pacers.
Avery Bradley’s last-second 3-point attempt barely grazed the rim as Indiana’s Lavoy Allen corralled the loose ball as time expired.
It was an exciting finish to a game that few would have envisioned playing out as it did after a lackluster start by both teams.
After a horrific shooting first half by both teams, both Boston and Indiana found their shooting groove in the third and fourth quarters.
Boston spent most of the game trailing, but managed to take a 79-78 lead following a 3-pointer by Isaiah Thomas.
Thomas, making the start for an injured Marcus Smart (toe), led all scorers with 27 points in addition to tallying seven assists.
Indiana, which had controlled the boards most of the night, soon went back ahead only for the Celtics to score five straight to tie the game at 98 with 1:05 to play following a pull-up jumper by Avery Bradley.
Bradley finished with 21 points, a surprising total considering he was a game-time decision due to a right (shooting) hand injury.
Following a Pacers time-out, Indiana’s Paul George had the ball in an isolation situation with Bradley. Despite the five-inch height advantage for George, Bradley was able to contest the shot enough to force a miss which was rebounded by Boston’s Jae Crowder.
Boston called a time-out of its own and got a great look at the basket for Isaiah Thomas, the team’s leading scorer this season. But Thomas’ shot was off the mark, rebounded by Indiana and they did – what else? – called a time-out with 25.6 seconds to play.
Indiana’s Monta Ellis only had two free throws, but they couldn’t have come at a better time.
Ellis drew a foul against Bradley with 13.7 seconds to play, free throws that turned out to be the final points scored of the night. He finished with 13 points, eight assists and five rebounds.