Indiana wins series 4-3 (Game 1 of 7)

Indiana wins series 4-3

Game 1: Saturday, April 23rd
Game 2: Monday, April 25th
Game 3: Thursday, April 28th
Game 4: Saturday, April 30th
Game 5: Tuesday, May 3rd
Game 6: Thursday, May 5th
Game 7: Saturday, May 7th

Pacers 82

(44-38, 19-22 away)

Celtics 102

(45-37, 27-14 home)

8:00 PM ET, April 23, 2005

TD Garden, Boston, MA

1 2 3 4 T
IND 20 11 25 2682
BOS 18 39 29 16102

Top Performers

Ind: S. Jackson 25 Pts, 1 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 Blk

Bos: R. LaFrentz 21 Pts, 3 Reb, 1 Ast, 3 Blk

LaFrentz hits all 5 of his 3s; Miller, O'Neal score 7 each

BOSTON (AP) -- Boston's young backups made Indiana look old and ordinary.

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 there."

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 them."

Stephen Jackson led Indiana with 25 points and Austin Croshere added 10. Miller, who plans to retire after the season, had seven points and missed six of seven shots.

For Boston, Gary Payton had 14 points and Antoine Walker and Ricky Davis added 13 each.

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 second quarter.

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 better."

Boston outscored Indiana 40-22 in the lane.

The second-quarter surge was led by Boston's second team of Davis, Mark Blount, second-year guard Marcus Banks and rookies Jefferson and Delonte West.

"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 calls.

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 the game.

"These kids can play," Jackson said. "You can't take them lightly."

Game notes

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.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 82 102
FGM-FGA 23-66 (.348) 38-74 (.514)
3PM-3PA 6-12 (.500) 10-18 (.556)
FTM-FTA 30-36 (.833) 16-25 (.640)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 12-43 4-33
Assists 15 24
Turnovers 22 11
Steals 6 14
Blocks 7 6
Fast Break Points 2 11
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 21 (2/0) 30 (1/1)
Largest Lead 8 37

Top Performers

Stephen Jackson Jackson
Points: 25
Reb: 1
Ast: 3
Stl: 1
Blk: 2
Raef LaFrentz LaFrentz
Points: 21
Reb: 3
Ast: 1
Stl: 0
Blk: 3