I'd like to think the Celts aren't done and it's just that the Pacers are getting too good. Because despite their early struggles, I absolutely did not expect the Pacers to thump the Celtics again, 97-83, only a little over a week after they thumped them in Boston (87-74). And yet they did, and they made it look kinda easy.
Danny Granger bounced back from his embarrassing two-technical ejection against Toronto to lead the team with 21 points on 8-19 shooting, which is not bad considering how brutal he has been shooting the ball this season. But again, it was a total team effort. Darren Collison had 17, 4 and 4, Paul George had 17 and 8, and Roy Hibbert had 11 and 9. David West, George Hill and Tyler Hansbrough all contributed to a satisfying win which I fully expected them to lose after how ordinary they looked against the Raptors, Danny Granger or not.
The Pacers shot poorly again (37.2%), but they made up for it by taking 94 shots (!), made possible by their 20 offensive rebounds, 12 steals and 10 blocks. Boston, on the other hand, simply looked...old. Really old. The Pacers did a much better job on Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen this game (6 and 7 points, respectively) and forced Paul Pierce into another poor shooting night (5-12 for 21 points). On the whole they just had more energy, greater depth (only Collison and Granger played more than 30 minutes) and better execution. At this point, the Pacers are simply the better team, something even I can't believe I just typed.
The two teams match up again in Boston before the end of the month, and I guess we'll see for certain whether it's time to stick a fork in these former champs.
As for now, the Pacers get a long rest and won't play again until Wednesday, when they head west to face the Sacramento Kings. The Kings are currently 4-8 and will probably be 4-9 as they are being thumped by the Mavs right now. Still, it's not a game the Pacers can take lightly. Granger has historically done well against the Kings, so let's hope he can have another good shooting night to get his FG% back on track for the season.