The Pacers (38-23) would pull away, and then the Celtics (33-27) would claw back. This happened on repeat for the better part of three quarters. It wasn't until the very last shot of the game that Boston took its first lead since early in the first quarter. Kevin Garnett found an open Jeff Green under the hoop after a beautifully executed play call by Doc Rivers out of a timeout.
The Celtics beat the Pacers Wednesday night - the second night of a road back-to-back - 83-81, their fourth straight win. Boston scored the game's final 11 points, having trailed the Pacers 81-72 with 4:35 left in the fourth quarter.
Kevin Garnett led the Celtics with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Paul Pierce added 13 points and eight rebounds, while Jeff Green added 11 points - including two huge ones - and seven rebounds off the bench.
What they'll be saying: The Celtics had no business winning this game. But they've had no business winning any games without Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger on the court. But like the other 12 wins Boston has racked up since Rondo's injury, they found a way in Indianapolis for what could be their biggest win of the year.
"We're talking about the second best team in the Eastern Conference on their home court in a back-to-back situation," Pierce told CSNNE's Greg Dickerson before leaving the court. "This team has just shown tremendous heart, tremendous resiliency, and the way we won we just stuck with it. We were down pretty much the whole game, and just finally got the lead. Jeff [Green] with a sensational layup. Great execution down the stretch."
The Celtics had ball and called a timeout with just under 24 seconds left in the game. It was clear Boston wasn't going to allow for any time on the clock when they drained it all the way down to nine seconds before getting into their play. That's when it all worked out to plan.
"The play was the first look was to Jeff," Pierce said. "Obviously I had the back pick on him. If that wasn't there I was going to come off with the handoff with Kevin, but that just shows you that when you pay attention to the little details, that small plays, all the little things that you do result in the big things. And it did tonight."
It looked early on that Roy Hibbert was going to have his way with the Celtics all night. His 12 points and 10 rebounds at halftime was a glaring weakness for the Celtics. But the second half was a 180-degree change. Hibbert was completely shut down on offense, scoring zero points, and recorded just two rebounds in the final 24 minutes of action.
It's that change in defensive effort by the Celtics that kept them in the game and allowed them to make a run in the end. It also shows the type of character and determination the C's have to steal a win.
"We're going to need a total team effort each and every night," Pierce said. "Gutsy win, man. This is one of the best wins of the year. Hopefully this can propel us the rest of the year going into the playoffs. Huge."