Running thoughts: Pacers 99, Celtics 97

Here are my running thoughts from the Pacers’ 99-97 win over the Boston Celtics Sunday night at TD Garden

  • Alex Poythress was assigned to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the G League before the Pacers boarded their flight to Boston on Saturday.
  • The Pacers wore their (white) Hickory uniforms — and they are beautiful — so the Celtics were in all black.
  • Boston was without Jaylen Brown (concussion protocol), Al Horford, a late scratch due to illness, and Gordon Hayward, of course. Kyrie Irving only played in the first half (seven points, four rebounds), their remained in the locker room for the second half as he continues to manage left knee soreness.
  • A carry violation was whistled on Oladipo in the first few minutes. You don’t see that call often at all.
  • A few minute later, Oladipo stepped in front of a pass intended for Marcus Smart. He now has a steal in 50 consecutive games. Ron Artest previously owned the franchise’s record — 40, during the 2002-03 season.
  • Oladipo, by the way, leads the NBA in steals per game (2.2).
  • The FOX Sports Indiana broadcast showed some old footage of coach Brad Stevens in the sectionals at Zionsville. Talk about throwback! Great tie-in, though, by the network … especially with the IHSAA State Tournament ongoing. (Regional games were played over the weekend.)
  • Trevor Booker attracting a double team in the post is great for the Pacers’ spacing. Good ball movement led to a wide-open 3-pointer from Lance Stephenson, despite it not going through.
  • Booker with a rare 3-point attempt as the shot clock neared expiration, his third try with the Pacers (2 for 3). He’s now 7 for 22 on the season.
  • Thad Young argued with the official after picking up his third foul with 2:38 left in the half. It’s noteworthy because Thad doesn’t waste much energy chatting with officials. At all.
  • Pacers weren’t sharp in the first half, shooting 36 percent and coughing it up eight times. Many careless passes, self-inflicted mistakes. They were outscored 25-16 in the second frame and went into the break down by 10.
  • Pacers scored 11 unanswered and took back the lead, 60-57, although it didn’t last very long. Despite more mindless turnovers, the Pacers outscored the Celtics in the third by 14 to head into the fourth with a 74-70 advantage.
  • Domantas Sabonis got raked across his face by Celtics’ Daniel Theis earlier in the fourth quarter and went back to the locker room to get a small laceration cleaned up above his left eye.
  • Strong finish by Myles Turner (19 points, 10 rebounds) in the post for a bucket in the paint that was ultimately the difference. He was playing with a lot of confidence, as evident in him shushing the crowd earlier in the half.
  • Yet again, this one came down to the final play. After Boston came within two with 1.5 seconds left, an offensive foul was called on Oladipo, who finished with 27 points, as he made incidental contact on the inbound. Marcus Morris exaggerated the contact and fell backward, giving the Celtics one last hope but Jayton Tatum missed an 18-footer.
  • They concluded their four-game season series with the Celtics. They won the final two after losing both games in 2017. The one in Indy, if you remember, should have been a Pacers’ win – but Bojan Bogdanovic threw the ball away in the final seconds, leading to a game-winning layup by Terry Rozier.
  • This loss may end up working in the Celtics’ favor, assuming they finish second in the East behind Toronto, Indiana in third ahead of Cleveland. Delays a 2-3 game against Cleveland in the second round.
  • The Pacers will move into third with a Lakers win Sunday night over Cleveland.
  • Up next: The Pacers (39-28) face Philadelphia on Tuesday, Toronto on Thursday (at home), and Washington on Saturday.

Mighty dunk by Domantas Sabonis on Daniel Theis.

Another brilliant ATO (after timeout) play drawn up by Brad Stevens.

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