Riding a three-game winning streak, the Indiana Pacers traveled to TD Garden on Tuesday night to take on the Boston Celtics in hopes of extending the streak to four.
Boston got off to a hot start, taking a 15-point lead into halftime after a Tyrese Haliburton halfcourt shot cut it down from 18 at the second-quarter buzzer.
However, despite Haliburton being done for the night earlier than he would have liked due to a minutes restriction, the Pacers fought all the way back and even took a lead at one point in the third quarter.
Unfortunately, they weren’t able to finish the job, as the Celtics bounced back in a big way, earning a 129-124 win over the Pacers despite blowing a 20-point lead.
The way the Pacers were able to stay in the game? Offensive rebounds.
Indiana snagged 19 offensive boards, earning themselves 21 second-chance shots on which they scored 31 points. Meanwhile, the Celtics only grabbed seven offensive rebounds, getting eight shots and scoring only six points.
However, while it could have been easy to chalk up the Pacers’ success on the boards to a lack of effort from the Celtics, Kristaps Porzingis actually believed the opposite.
He said the Celtics were trying very hard, but the Pacers “make you look bad” because of their up-tempo playstyle and constant intensity on the glass.
“Yeah, second half, we didn't play our best basketball,” Porzingis said. “But to be honest, it did not feel like we didn't play hard. We played really hard. Obviously, it's a back-to-back for us. But they're that type of team that, they kind of make you look bad because they go for offensive rebounds all day, and they move around like crazy. [They] play chaotic. They get those second-chance points, and it looks really bad and kills the energy, kills the crowd, kills our energy.
“So, it's tough, ugly to play against them. But yeah, we fought, and we got to win in the end. So, good job at the end. And that's it. Again, we can take lessons from this game for sure.”
Though the Pacers weren’t able to hang on to win the game, they showed some serious fight, especially considering they were playing without their superstar point guard for most of the second half.
To hear an opponent give them that much credit should feel great, and if the Pacers end up getting into the postseason, they could be a real nuisance for their opponent.