By Patrick Whalen
And just when we all thought this start to 2019 couldn’t get any better the Celtics went out and proved that it could be better. The Celtics were finishing off their homestand against a talented Pacers team and this would prove to be a good test for the Celtics as at the time the Pacers were third in the east. Tonight was the healthiest the Celtics have been in a while as just Aron Baynes was inactive and Horford was still on his minutes restriction but other than that everyone else was fully active. The Pacers meanwhile were without center Myles Turner which made Damontas Sabonis have to step up to the starting position. The Pacers were going to be the Celtics first real test against a potential playoff opponent since their Christmas Day thriller with the Sixers.
The Celtics would jump on the Pacers early as they lead by 6 at the end of the first and by 15 at the half. The Celtics fast start was powered by Marcus Morris and Jaylen Brown who each had 22 points. Morris was 6-8 shooting with 8 rebounds while Brown was 7-12 shooting with 7 rebounds off the bench including this bucket.
Tatum was second in scoring with 20 points on 9-15 shooting and 4 rebounds and even sent some Pacers to the floor.
Kyrie had a quiet night with just 12 points on 5-9 shooting in just 24 minutes. With this game becoming a blowout the Celtics rested most of their starters which allowed guys like Theis and Rozier some extra minutes. They each had 12 points off the bench while Rozier also had 5 rebounds and 5 assists and Theis had 6 rebounds to go with his 12. Gordon Hayward also had a good night off the bench with 14 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists. Also Robert Williams had 6 points, 3 rebounds and 2 blocks in 12 minutes of action (Basketball-Reference.com). After leading by 15 at the half the Celtics went out and dominated the third quarter, which they normally struggle in, to lead by 25 going into the fourth. Despite having the reserves in for most of the fourth the Celtics still outscored the Pacers and ultimately won by 27 points with the final score being 135-108.
Despite getting blown out the Pacers still had some good performances from their squad. Sabonis stepped up in the absence of Turner and put up 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists. Oladipo still had 17 points on 6-13 shooting in the losing effort and Tyreke Evans had 15 points and 5 assists off the bench (Basketball-Reference.com).
This win was a great sign for Celtics fans. The offense was clicking on all levels as the Celtics dropped a new season high with 135 points on a potential playoff opponent and team normally known for their defensive ability. The Celtics also dominated the rebounding battle 48-39 despite having no Baynes and Horford only playing 18 minutes. The Celtics defense was also clicking with 7 steals and 7 blocks. This all-around dominant effort was a great building block for this young team, especially against a potential playoff opponent in Indiana. Up next the Celtics will head down to Miami to take on the Heat as the second game of their back to back. It will be a tough game but the Celtics need to start beating these borderline playoff teams like the Heat consistently if they want to make up ground in the standings as they currently are 25-15 and sit 4 games back of first in the east. Let’s hope the Celtics can stay undefeated in 2019 and carry their momentum on the road.
Also, don’t forget to vote for all your favorite Celtic players to send them to the 2019 All-Star game in Charlotte. Hit the link below and vote, vote, vote to get as many Celtics to Charlotte as we can.