Haliburton's turnovers cost Pacers, who blow late lead against Celtics in Game 1 of East finals

Wed, May 22, 2024
NBA News (AP)

Haliburton's turnovers cost Pacers, who blow late lead against Celtics in Game 1 of East finals

BOSTON (AP) - The Indiana Pacers kept turning the ball over, and just like that they handed a victory to the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.

Tyrese Haliburton had two key turnovers - one at the end of regulation, and another in overtime - to help Boston recover from a five-point deficit in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter and win 133-128 on Tuesday night.

"Just turnovers. Turnovers," Haliburton began. "I had two bad turnovers that I feel cost us the game."

The Pacers arrived in Boston after upsetting the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round and the New York Knicks in the second - both times after losing Game 1. The Celtics are the NBA's top-seeded team, seven wins ahead of their closest competition and 17 wins better than the Pacers.

And when Boston opened a 12-0 lead on Tuesday night, it looked like the series might not even be competitive. But Indiana tied it by halftime, led 115-110 with 1:57 left in regulation and even had a three-point lead with 40 seconds left.

"We know we can play with these guys," Haliburton said. There's a lot of people out here saying we don't belong here. We don't really care. We know we belong."

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It was turnovers - 22 of them for 32 points, and several in key spots - that cost them. In addition to Haliburton dribbling off his foot with 28 seconds left in a three-point game when he wasn't being closely guarded, he also lost the ball out of bounds with 1:02 left in overtime.

"Big-time turnovers," Pacers center Myles Turner said. "We showed our age a little bit tonight, being a youthful team in this high stakes of a game. We made some mistakes. A lot of uncharacteristic turnovers."

The Pacers led 117-114 with the ball after Jayson Tatum missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer with 37 seconds left. But Haliburton dribbled off his foot, giving Boston two more looks at the basket before Turner grabbed a rebound and was fouled with 10 seconds remaining.

That's when Andrew Nembhard threw away the inbounds pass, handing the Celtics yet another chance. Jrue Holiday found Jaylen Brown in the left corner; Pascal Siakam was supposed to foul him but hesitated, fearful of giving up three free throws.

Brown drained the 3, tying the score 117-all. Haliburton got the ball with a decent look at the basket, but he went looking for a better one and wound up tossing up a heavily contested, off-balance shot at the buzzer.

"That's replayed a bunch of times in my head already," Haliburton said. "That was probably the look for me to shoot."

Game 2 is Thursday night before the series shifts to Indianapolis. The Pacers will need to win at least once in Boston, and they aren't likely to get a better chance.

"This loss is totally on me," coach Rick Carlisle said, blaming himself for not calling a timeout to advance the ball with 10 seconds left. "We made some other mistakes. ... We've got to own it, and we've got to get ready for Thursday."

Carlisle, who was fined $35,000 for complaining about the officiating in the second-round series against the Knicks, declined to comment on a 30-10 free throw differential - 23-3 in regulation.

"My daughter's already going to sit out one semester of college," he said. "I can't have her take a whole year off."

JIMMY GOLEN Golen covers Boston sports for The Associated Press, with a little bit of sports law and Olympic beach volleyball and curling mixed in. twitter mailto "
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