|Pacers hope home rims are friendlier vs. Celtics|
After mustering just 165 total points in two losses in Boston, the Indiana Pacers hope their shots start falling when they host the Celtics for Game 3 of a first-round playoff series Friday night.
The Celtics used two suffocating defensive stretches to build a 2-0 advantage as the series moves to Indianapolis.
Playing without Victor Oladipo, who will miss the entire postseason, the Pacers were up 45-38 at halftime in Game 1 before missing their first 11 shots of the second half.
Boston used a 22-3 flurry to build a 12-point lead and never looked back in an 84-74 victory.
Indiana held a lead late in Game 2, but went scoreless for nearly eight full minutes in the fourth quarter, a stretch during which the Celtics scored 16 straight points to flip an 82-70 deficit into a four-point lead.
The Pacers have shot 39 percent in the series, 31 percent on 3-pointers, and have gotten an average of just 6.5 points from Myles Turner, 9.5 points from Darren Collison and 11.0 from Thaddeus Young.
And even coach Nate McMillan admitted he hasn't been on top of his game, either.
"We've all got to do a better job," he said at his postgame press conference after Wednesday's 99-91 loss. "I have to do a better job. We all have to do a better job."
Scoring at least 100 points would help. The Pacers have lost their last 10 games, including both in this series, when they failed to reach triple digits.
The Celtics, meanwhile, have won five in a row when holding opponents under 100.
If there's any discomfort among the Celtics, it's that they've been here before. They went up on Milwaukee with two series-opening wins at home in the first round last year, only to lose two straight on the road to let the Bucks right back in the series.
Boston went on to win in seven games, but finished 1-7 on the road in the postseason.
Kyrie Irving poured in 37 points and Jayson Tatum hit the key hoops down the stretch for the Celtics in Game 2. But an unsung hero in the victory was Al Horford, who was able to put in 37 minutes against Pacers big men Turner and Domantas Sabonis despite feeling so sick during the day that he missed the morning shootaround.
"Tip my hat to Al -- true warrior, true professional," Celtics guard Jaylen Brown told reporters after the game. "He gave us everything he had."
Horford is expected to play in Game 3, although the schedule isn't doing him any favors. The club not only traveled between games, but will be making a quick turnaround Friday night (and again Sunday afternoon) after having had two days off without a site change between Games 1 and 2.
The Pacers lost three of their final four home games during the regular season, including 117-97 to the Celtics on April 5.
--Field Level Media