Grades: Pacers stumble again, go down 0-3 in series

Indiana Pacers
Indiana Pacers /

Another game, another dud quarter, and the Indiana Pacers are down 0-3 in the series.

The theme of this playoffs is the Indiana Pacers having one quarter every game where they are just a complete mess on offense. That can’t happen against a team that has more firepower than you, but it happened again in Game 3 and the Pacers fell.

104. 18. 96. 100. Final

Yuck. We appear to be headed towards a sweep. The Pacers third (turd) quarter featured 12 points on offense. Between that quarter, the 4th quarter of Game 2, and the 3rd quarter of Game 1, the Pacers have scored a total of 32 points.

The Celtics scored 41 in the first quarter of this game, for reference.

Many Pacers players discussed the need to play a full game instead of a 36 minute one in the locker room after the game. They also said that after Game 1 and Game 2. They keep saying it, but nothing is changing. If it doesn’t on Sunday, the season is over in the worst fashion.

Nate McMillan’s rotations will be an often discussed topic of this game. and rightfully so. The team needed offense and subbed Tyreke Evans OUT of the game in the fourth quarter despite him being literal instant offense all game long. In exchange for Evans, Indiana had the Turner/Sabonis pairing on the floor, which hasn’t been effective in this series and it wasn’t in this instance.

The whole rotation in the 4th quarter felt rigid and planned. That’s how it has always been, but in a series that has not at all gone the Pacers way, they can’t keep doing what they have always been. What’s done is done. They lost, again. They need to adjust.

Getting burned early.

32 points is a lot for a team to score in one quarter. That would merit a 128 point game if maintained for 4 quarters.

Yet if the Celtics had scored “just” 32 in the first quarter instead of 41, the Pacers win this game. They were unstoppable in the first frame, hitting 8 of their first 9 threes. The Celtics erased that deficit, but it set the tone for the whole game.

Brick by brick.

That’s how the Pacers are going to build their offense.

Only one player shot over 50 percent in this game; Tyreke Evans. Reke was really good, he was a sparkplug on offense. Everyone else was struggling to put the ball in the basket.

Some of this is due to the Celtics being a rock-solid defensive team. But an equal part of it is the team failing to execute on offense and missing shots. Trotting up, getting into their sets late, and then being forced to rush up a horrid shot was a theme in the second half. Everything has to be better.

It all comes down to Sunday.

Getting swept is embarrassing. Myles Turner said in the locker room after the game that Game 4 will be all about pride for the Pacers.

The odds of winning this series are astronomically low for Indiana. But winning just one game, even if it is essentially meaningless, does so much for the narrative of the team and pride of the players against a much more talented Celtics team.

The character of the whole group will be on display on Sunday.

Player grades:

D -. 10 points on 11 shots to go with 3 assists and 2 turnovers. On the other end, his defense wasn’t good. This whole series has been unkind to Collison.. PG. Indiana Pacers. DARREN COLLISON

Indiana Pacers. WESLEY MATTHEWS. C -. Speaking of rough series, Matthews has had trouble putting the ball through the net too. He at least provided good defense tonight and hit half of his 3s.. SG

C. 15 shots on 17 shots for Bojan, a man who is forced to try and do too much because of Vic’s injury. He’s done about as much as the team can ask of him, but he’s not an iso scorer or a creator.. SF. Indiana Pacers. BOJAN BOGDANOVIC

C. The box score looks good for Thad, who crammed out 11 points 9 rebounds and 3 assists. But he didn’t feel that effective tonight for some reason.. PF. Indiana Pacers. THADDEUS YOUNG

MYLES TURNER. C. 13 points and 7 rebounds. He was okay. Horford just kills him. 1/5 from three was perhaps his biggest flaw in this one.. C. Indiana Pacers

C. 7 rebounds and 6 assists hight the role that Sabonis is stuck with in this series – he has to do the dirty work for the second unit. He was 3/10 though, as Al Horford was figured him out. Sabonis hasn’t had the best series. C. Indiana Pacers. DOMANTAS SABONIS

B. If you’re into +/- like I used to be, then you’ll be really into the game Cory Joseph had. He played good D and hit half of his 4 shots, so he was mostly good. But he had a few moments where it felt like he was just sort of… there.. PG. Indiana Pacers. CORY JOSEPH

D. Only 5 minutes for McDermott, who Nate McMillan cut from the rotation in the second half. Thad and Bojan looked tired, so that may have been the wrong move, but Doug had no counting stats outside of 2 fouls in his time on the floor.. SF. Indiana Pacers. DOUG MCDERMOTT

A -. Best Pacer by a mile. He could actually hit shots and brought energy to an offense that desperately needed it. 19 points on 10 shots looks awesome because it was awesome.. SG. Indiana Pacers. TYREKE EVANS

Next. The Pacers need more than average shooting from Wesley Matthews. dark

The Pacers play what could be their final game of the season on Sunday at 1 pm. See you then.