Some areas of improvement the Pacers should look to after losing Game 1 vs Boston

Indiana's Game 1 loss to Boston provided much room for improvement outside the final moments.
Indiana Pacers v Boston Celtics - Game One
Indiana Pacers v Boston Celtics - Game One / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages

This one hurt.

The Indiana Pacers were just the victims of a monumental collapse in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics. Up three points with 10 seconds to go, Pascal Siakam lost the ball on an inbound pass, which was followed up by Jaylen Brown draining a game-tying three-pointer to send the game to overtime, during which Boston took control and won with a final score of 133-128.

While this loss was absolutely devastating and an awful way for the Pacers to go out after proving they could hang with the far more experienced Celtics, there are still some positives Indiana can take away from this loss and things they can look to improve on to keep this series competitive.

For one, the Pacers could not take care of the ball at all in Game 1. Similar to Game 5 of the Knicks series, Indiana seemingly had butterfingers through the whole game, finishing with 21 turnovers compared to Boston's 14. These 21 turnovers are tied for the second-most for the Pacers this season.

The worst part of this was that most of Indiana's turnovers were caused by themselves. There were plenty more bad passes, travels, and out-of-bounds calls than there should be in a playoff game, especially a Conference Finals game.

Specifically, the two turnovers Indiana had in the finals 27 seconds with the game almost won will haunt them for the near future. Those are mistakes you cannot afford to make, especially against the best team in the Eastern Conference with an NBA Finals berth on the line.

Secondly, the Pacers only shot 10 free throws in Game 1 compared to Boston shooting 30 free throws. The free throw discrepancy was quite noticeable during the game, with multiple questionable calls going Boston's way and some not even being called for Indiana.

Indiana took their first free throws of the game halfway through the first quarter and did not return to the line until there were three minutes left in the fourth quarter, almost 39 full game minutes without a single free throw from the Pacers' side.

Additionally, the Pacers seemed to forget what worked so well for them in the first half. Specifically, they did not get Myles Turner going in the second half when it was needed the most. Turner was perhaps Indiana's best player in Game 1, scoring 18 points on 7/10 shooting in the first half, however only took three shots in the second half and scored five points, before going scoreless in overtime.

While part of this had to do with Boston changing up their defense in the second half and Tyrese Haliburton and Turner blitzed them on pick-and-rolls multiple times, there were still plenty of chances to get Turner going in the second half, as Indiana didn't even try running any post-up plays, which would have most likely worked in the Pacers favor, especially in the minutes Luke Kornet was on the floor.

Kristaps Porzingis is still out for the Celtics, and will most likely be out for the next two games, with a return estimated for Game 4. In the meantime, Indiana needs to do whatever it can to get opportunities inside early and often. With Boston's best rim protectors at the time being 37-year-old Al Horford, there is no reason for Indiana to shy away from driving to the basket and getting post-up opportunities, especially since the few chances they got worked so well with Turner and Pascal Siakam.

Finally, Indiana's close-out defense was downright atrocious in Game 1. Of the 45 three-pointers Boston took, the majority of them were wide open following miscommunications on Indiana's side. This was similar to some issues Indiana had in the New York series when they could not close out on shooters such as Donte DiVincenzo and Josh Hart.

To have any chance of making this series competitive, let alone winning, the Pacers have to do a better job defensively as they have demonstrated they are capable of beforehand.


Despite the heartbreaking loss in Game 1, all hope is not lost. For the Pacers to come to Boston and almost escape with a win after starting the game trailing 0-12 is huge. As Tyrese Haliburton said in the postgame interview, they played well for 47 minutes, and now have to build on that by playing 48 minutes of solid, competitive basketball. The Pacers can hang with this Celtics team, the question is if they will or not.