It looked like the Pacers got some much-needed redemption on Wednesday. After putting up a measly eight points in the third quarter against the Celtics in Game 1—Indiana would go on to lose 84-74—the Pacers had a strong third quarter of their own in Game 2, outscoring Boston 29-16. But that momentum quickly fell apart shortly after the fourth quarter began, and Indiana suddenly only had three points with 5:25 remaining in the game.
Then, Bojan Bogdanovic stepped up big time for the Pacers. With his team down two with 3:12 remaining, Bogdanovic found open space for a three to put Indiana up one. The Celtics replied with a mid-range jumper from Gordon Hayward to retake the lead, to which Bogdanovic’s response was a step-back three over the outstretched arm of Al Horford.
Now, it’d be understandable if Pacers coach Nate McMillan realized his player had a hot hand and told his players to get Bogdanovic the ball more frequently down the stretch. What’s not understandable is giving a spot-up shooter the ball a million miles away from the basket, and putting him in iso situations like he’s some sort of ball-dominant guard—which, in case it’s not clear, he’s not. Unsurprisingly, the bad game plan led to some bad results.
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But that’s not the end of the world, right? Boston is only up 92-91 so any good shot that the Pacers take will give them the lead. As long as Indiana doesn’t do that iso Bojan crap again, things will be fine.
Well, great. Sure, that play looked uglier than it was probably designed because of Wesley Matthews’s terrible shot, but it was a play that was contingent on Bogdanovic being about 15 feet away from the three point line as a reset point. As if to add insult to injury, Bogdanovic’s slow rotation off a pick helped Jayson Tatum get open enough to set up that play to Hayward.
But, again, the Pacers still have a chance to come back, down just 94-91. They now have two glaring examples of why running the iso-Bojan play was a bad idea. They probably even have enough evidence to show that Bogdanovic has become a radioactive target that would pose a danger to any potential team success this game. That line of thinking would only leave three scoring options off the inbounds pass, but with the scrappy talent on the floor, Indiana should still be able to at least get a shot off—even with just those three.
Maybe someone should tell McMillan that he has other capable players on his team before Game 3.