Writing is on the wall for Pacers with Celtics sitting pretty

The Boston Celtics are looking like they are going to win the Eastern Conference. 

After being fortunate to win Game 1, Boston cruised to a convincing 126-110 victory on Thursday night. With the win, the Celtics now hold a 2-0 series lead as action shifts to Indiana. And while some may argue the Pacers are tough to beat at home, it’s clear they don’t have enough to actually win the series. 

Entering Game 1, there was reason to believe Indiana could at least make it a long series. They play an uptempo style that often appears to be Boston’s kryptonite and the Celtics have lost as a heavy favorite in the past. 

However, the way the Pacers unraveled down the stretch with 21 total turnovers and completely squandered an opportunity to open the series with a win instantly felt like a bad omen. 

No team can afford to blow games in the playoffs, especially not on the road against a deeper opponent. To Indiana’s credit, and to the credit of Rick Carlisle, a coach who knows how to lead a team to a championship, the Pacers responded well early on in Game 2. 

Indiana actually closed the first quarter with a 27-25 lead. Unfortunately for Pacers fans, the exact reason Boston is the clear favorite became evident as the game progressed. 

The Celtics never trailed again from the second quarter on, as three players surpassed 20 points. Jaylen Brown, potentially motivated by an All-NBA snub, led the way with exactly 40 points in 36 minutes. Brown was 14-of-27 from the field and was a +18 in the game. Brown was also far from going at it alone. 

Jayson Tatum scored 23 while adding six rebounds and five assists and Derrick White put together another solid playoff performance with 23 as well. Jrue Holiday, who was brought in for his defensive prowess, even added 15 of his own. 

When the Celtics are clicking like they were in Game 2, they are almost impossible to beat. Pascal Siakam did score 28, granted 20 of his points came in seven minutes, but was the only Pacer to even reach 20. Tyrese Haliburton flirted with a double-double before leaving the game with a leg injury.

Not only are the Pacers now in an 0-2 series hole, it’s tough to see much reason for optimism. Haliburton’s status for the rest of the series is up in the air. Carlisle even admitted Haliburton is dealing with a “sore” left hamstring in his postgame news conference. 

Despite the result in Game 2, the vibes would be different if the Pacers had the cushion of the Game 1 win under their belt. Instead, Game 3 is an obvious must-win for Indiana. And even though the Pacers haven’t lost a game at home yet in the postseason, there’s a real possibility they will be without Haliburton, or he will at least be less than 100%. 

The way this series is going, Boston may not even need to rush Kristaps Porzingis back and can just worry about getting him ready for the NBA Finals.

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