If this is any indication of how the Indiana Pacers play against elevated competition, the next week will be a very long one for the blue and gold. Indiana went to Beantown Friday night and got its cornbread taken by the Boston Celtics 94-75.
The statistics tell the tale of this game. Indiana shot 31.8% for the game, scored less than 20 points in every quarter except the fourth (which was extensive garbage time for both teams) and turned the ball over 19 times. The Pacers were dominated by the Celtics from the second quarter on.
Indiana played without its starting point guard George Hill for the third consecutive game with a thigh contusion. Reserve forward Sam Young also missed the game with a sprained ankle, but neither Hill or Young would have made much of a difference in this game. When Paul George and David West, the team’s two best offensive players this season, shoot a combined 8 for 36 from the field, Indiana won’t beat anybody in the league. The Pacers struggle to score even with George and West have it going. They certainly can’t afford an off game from both in the same game, especially when Roy Hibbert isn’t living up to $58 million expectations.
The most frustrating thing to watch is a team that doesn’t play hard. The Pacers looked sluggish and without energy from the tip. They held a tenuous one-point lead after the first quarter because Boston was just as bad. When the Celtics righted the ship, Indiana had no answer and, to much consternation, looked disinterested in answering. They threw the ball all over the parquet floor, did very little with force or aggression and generally played soft on both ends of the floor.
It doesn’t get any easier for Indiana. The Milwaukee Bucks come into town having already beaten the Pacers twice this season. Then, the competition increases further when the World Champion Miami Heat and surging New York Knicks visit Indy next week. Indiana has no chance to get a win in this challenging stretch with an effort, or lack thereof, like the one turned in Friday in Boston.
Follow Jay Neal on Twitter @JayNilla