BOSTON (AP) -- Boston's young backups made Indiana look old and
They sparked the Celtics to a 102-82 victory Saturday night by
turning a two-point deficit after one quarter into a 15-point lead
six minutes later and beginning 39-year-old Reggie Miller's final
playoff season with a blowout.
"We came out full of energy," 20-year-old rookie Al Jefferson
said after his first postseason game.
And the Pacers couldn't keep up, falling behind 57-31 at
halftime and 76-39, their biggest deficit, midway through the third
quarter of the playoff opener.
"We were beaten and we were beaten bad," said Jermaine O'Neal,
who scored just seven points in only his fourth game after missing
22 with a shoulder injury. "It's a very humbling situation for
everyone on the team."
The Celtics' aggressive defense produced 14 steals and they
moved the ball so well to find the open man that six players scored
in double figures. They rolled over Indiana even though Paul
Pierce, their top scorer during the regular season, didn't score
his first field goal until 7:56 remained in the game.
"Tonight was all about our bench," Pierce said. "That's the
great thing about our team. It wasn't called upon for me to score
25 or 30 points to win."
With Indiana's defense focusing on Pierce, starter Raef LaFrentz
led Boston with 21 points and hit all five of his 3-pointers to
break the team playoff record of four set by Scott Wedman in Game 1
of the 1985 NBA Finals won by the Los Angeles Lakers.
"It's my role," said LaFrentz, who missed most of last season
and the playoffs with a knee injury. "It was just rewarding to be
Boston will host Game 2 on Monday night in the best-of-seven
rematch of its first-round series the past two years. Last season,
Indiana swept the series, with an average winning margin of 14.2
points and lost to Detroit in the Eastern Conference finals.
"That was a demolition," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. "We
have a little less than two days to figure out how to compete with
The Celtics got off to a horrible start in which they missed 12
of their first 13 shots and trailed 12-6. But they hit 20 of their
31 shots the rest of the half, outscored the Pacers 39-11 in the
The closest Indiana came after that was 99-81 on Eddie Gill's
layup with 2:45 to play.
"They'll be better," Boston coach Doc Rivers said, looking
ahead to Monday. "Jermaine O'Neal, all of them. They'll be
Boston outscored Indiana 40-22 in the lane.
"Every day we stop our starters in practice and we feel they're
one of the best [first-string group] in the league," Banks said.
"If we can stop them, we can stop anybody."
The Pacers' frustration boiled over when they were charged with
two technical fouls within 47 seconds. Carlisle got one with 3:54
left and Boston leading 45-26, and Miller picked up the other with
3:07 to go and the score 51-26. Both were assessed after foul
The Celtics' aggressive defense forced steals that unleashed
their running game that continued when they started the third
quarter with a 19-8 surge. That gave them their biggest lead on
consecutive 3-pointers by LaFrentz and Walker.
LaFrentz hit his last 3-pointer with 2:46 left, making it 83-49
and sat out the entire fourth quarter while the youngsters finished
"These kids can play," Jackson said. "You can't take them
Payton spent the last few minutes of the
game on the bench with his son on his lap. ... Pacers president and
former Celtics great Larry Bird was greeted with chants of
"La-reee! La-reee!" when he took his seat a few rows behind
Indiana's bench just before the game began. ... Kelly Clarkson,
winner in the first season of "American Idol," sang the national
anthem. ... Boston's 27-14 home record was its best in its 10
seasons at the FleetCenter. ... Indiana point guard Jamal Tinsley
is on the playoff roster but didn't play after missing the last 29
games with a bruised left foot.