It is a lot to ask of a team to win back-to-back games against Carmelo, Amar'e, and the Knicks. It is asking a lot more of them to go on the road the following night and beat one of the best teams in the league in the Boston Celtics. That would be hard for any team in the NBA to do, let alone a team that is under .500 and struggling to keep up in the playoff race in the dreadful Eastern Conference.
The 12-point loss in Boston tonight was to be expected. I think most people would agree that this is what the end result of this game would be. There were some bright spots in the game as well, on both sides of the ball. Five players scored in double figures tonight; Danny Granger and Paul George each led the way with 15 points, while Josh McRoberts added 14 from the bench.
Tyler Hansbrough had another double-double with 10 points and eleven rebounds, though he struggled shooting from the field tonight. Darren Collison also had another positive performance, with 10 points and nine assists. He has had a total of 33 assists in his last four games now, and really seems to be "getting it" on offense. He is beginning to control the tempo and take over for spurts during the game.
Perhaps the best performance tonight was from Paul George. Not only did he lead the team in scoring, but he also pulled down seven rebounds, three steals and a block. He and Granger combined for all five of the team's three-point baskets.
Despite the difference in shooting percentage, there was one other area where the Celtics had the biggest advantage: the free throw line. While the Celtics were 26-of-33 from the stripe, the Pacers only had 13 trips to the line, connecting on nine of them.
I didn't expect a win tonight and they actually put up a good fight throughout the game. The defense wasn't bad, and they didn't let Rondo do whatever he wanted on offense. Rondo didn't record a single rebound or point in 30 minutes of action, but did dish out eight assists.
In somewhat of an odd note, the Pacers somehow managed to score exactly 20 points in every single quarter.
The good news is that the Pacers should hold on to the lead for the final playoff spot after tonight's games conclude. It appears that the Rockets are going to beat the Bobcats, and the Magic just defeated the Bucks in the final seconds of their game.
Up next is another tough game for the Pacers: The Chicago Bulls, who are arguably the hottest team in the league right now. The Celtics and Bulls are both now tied for the best record in the Eastern Conference, so the Pacers will be happy when this week is over.
Friday night's game against the Bulls is set to tip off at 7:00 p.m. at Conseco Fieldhouse. This is the fourth and final game between these two during the regular season. Not only have the Bulls won all three games this season, but they have also won each of them by double digits.
The main thing to take away from this game is that they didn't get blown out and they moved the ball well and continued to fight. Boston is just a superior team right now. Losing to the Celtics in Boston by 12 on the back end of a back-to-back isn't bad at all. Losing to the Timberwolves and Raptors in pathetic fashion is the real problem. Beat the teams you should beat and everything will be fine. Doing that should assure them of making the playoffs this season.