The Boston Celtics looked like a team incapable of flipping a playoff switch in the first half.
Whatever Brad Stevens said at halftime, the switch was flipped and the lights were bright out of the break.
The Pacers went into halftime ahead 45-38 after holding Boston to 32.5 percent shooting in the first half but couldn't keep the energy going after the break. Boston opened the second half on a 15-1 run and never trailed the rest of the way, swarming a Pacers offense that is going to struggle scoring in the series.
Bojan Bogdanovic was the only Indiana starter in double figures with 12 points. Cory Joseph had a team-high 14 off the bench, as the Pacers shot 33.3 percent for the game.
Pacers Don't Have Offensive Firepower to Shock Inconsistent Celtics
It's just not there.
The Pacers held Boston to 32.5 percent shooting in the first half and 84 points overall and lost by 10. Credit due to the Celtics defense, but they're playing without Marcus Smart, their best defender who will likely miss at least the first two rounds because of an oblique tear.
Indiana had a bottom-10 offense after the All-Star break and has been on a downward spiral. The Pacers have averaged 107.4 points per 100 possessions since March 1, which is the exact same total as the regular-season Lakers.
That is...not great.
Of the four possible teams they could have faced, the Pacers got their best possible matchup. Boston's struggled all season on the offensive end of the floor, because of a combination of chemistry, in-fighting and fit. The first half was perfect evidence, with the Celtics looking totally disjointed and trading the occasional scowl while Stevens looked on with a blank expression.
Even in victory, the Celtics are still a wildly inconsistent team that plays without any semblance of flow offensively. Irving's shots and assists were the result of dribble-heavy actions, and the Celtics only broke the 80 barrier thanks to a few extra threes falling. This was a mid-2000s ugly slugfest without the slugging. It was a boxing game with the blood sliders turned off.
The Pacers, it appears, are in the ring with one arm. Victor Oladipo's injury took them out of the conversation for any deep run, but the play of Bogdanovic (who may get an All-NBA team vote or two) and defensive presence of Miles Turner looked like a recipe to give the Celtics a battle. Boston was always going to win this series barring an Irving injury—the talent chasm is too large—but the Pacers had the feel of a team that wouldn't go quietly.
Forty-eight minutes into the series, and it feels like they'll be wrapping things up in four or five.