It’s a coaches’ cliché to say their team threw the game away, but Indiana literally threw the ball and the upset win against the Celtics away in the final seconds Monday night.
Indiana was in control of the game late — because Victor Oladipo had 30 of his 38 points in the second half — and the Celtics had gone to the strategy of fouling and going for threes on the other end. There’s a reason teams go to that strategy. Kyrie Irving hit a couple of big threes, which were traded off with a couple of free throws at the other end, and with 9 seconds left the Pacers were up one, 111-110.
Indiana inbounded the ball to Cory Joseph, who was not instantly fouled and made a quick pass to Bojan Bogdanovic to kill more time. Then Bogdanovic tried the same idea but executed it poorly, throwing a hanging, slow cross-court pass.
Terry Rozier from Boston stole the pass, tipping it forward to himself, then racing in for the game-winning layup. Indiana had used its last time out just before that play to move the ball into the frontcourt, and without a timeout they could not get off a good shot and lost, 112-111.
Pacers fans can try to take a moral victory from this game, they hung with the top team in the East and should have won. Indiana and Oladipo are for real.
But this loss was still a punch to the gut.