It goes without saying that a massive underdog has to capitalize on its opportunities. David only had so many chances to slay Goliath with his slingshot before the giant would have likely pulverized him, but he came through. The Indiana Pacers inexplicably misfired at close range in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, allowing the Boston Celtics to knock them out in overtime.

On Thursday, the No. 1 seed trampled a wounded Indy, thwarting a couple of furious runs to earn a 126-110 win in Game 2. With Tyrese Haliburton suffering a hamstring injury, an issue that has hampered him in the past, fans' confidence is surely waning. What should be a 1-1 series is now an 0-2 deficit for the Pacers heading into Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

The mental toll a collapse can have on a team, particularly a young one, cannot be overstated. Indiana recovered from a stinging Game 1 loss to the New York Knicks in the previous round of the NBA Playoffs, but this is a completely different challenge. Grit is not always enough.

It is still a little early to prepare a eulogy for this resilient squad, as Saturday's Game 3 offers the No. 6 seed a chance to obtain new life in this series (Indiana is undefeated at home this postseason). Therefore, we do not have to look so far ahead, especially since there is still some unpleasant business to take care of regarding the latest matchup.

We are going to dig a little deeper into the Game 2 result and try to determine whose shortcomings were most responsible for the Pacers' defeat.

Indy's Defense was even worse than advertised

We will single out a couple of individuals who did not measure up against the Celtics, but the defense as a whole obviously deserves to be castigated for its poor effort. Boston shot 53.4 percent from the floor and knocked down more than 40 percent of its 3-point attempts while also moving the ball around for 28 assists.

Although Indiana was nearly as dangerous from the field, there was an alarming disparity in the teams' low-post resistance. The Celtics outscored the Pacers 54-34 in the paint, despite the continued absence of Kristaps Porzingis. Jaylen Brown led the way with 40 points and Jayson Tatum and Derrick White each added 23 to tack on the offensive pressure.

Rick Carlisle's guys have been maligned for their defense for much of the 2023-24 campaign, but such a lack of discipline and organization on this big stage is simply unacceptable. Despite the fact that Indiana pulled within two in the third quarter, the 20-0 run it surrendered in the second can justly be seen as one of the main reasons for the disappointing result.

Like Hall of Famer and TNT analyst Charles Barkley has consistently stated, the Pacers are not going to magically develop new tendencies in the 2024 NBA Playoffs. They do need to limit their bad habits, though, if they want to genuinely compete with the C's in a best-of-seven series.

Pacers' Rick Carlisle makes some questionable decisions

 Indiana Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle reacts against the Boston Celtics during the second half for game one of the eastern conference finals for the 2024 NBA playoffs at TD Garden.
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana's head coach subscribed to the adage, “fight another day,” as he appeared to accept a Game 2 loss in the final frame. Trailing 99-82, Carlisle removed Pascal Siakam and T.J. McConnell from the game with 9:25 remaining on the clock. They spent the rest of the night on the bench. Aaron Nesmith did not play any of the fourth quarter.

Ben Sheppard, Isaiah Jackson and Doug McDermott all logged decent minutes in what became prolonged and seemingly unnecessary garbage time. Even when the Pacers hovered within 13-15 points, Carlisle did not go back to his starters. The championship-winning coach explained the puzzling philosophy by saying his players were fatigued.

Indiana will probably have plenty of time to rest in the near future. Now is when everyone must empty the tank. Losing Tyrese Haliburton in the third surely made a comeback improbable, but there are many instances of teams rallying around devastating blows. Maybe the scrappy Nesmith and McConnell could have overcome their early struggles and ignited a resurgence.

Sitting out those guards is befuddling, but not trusting Siakam, who scored 28 points on magnificent 13-of-17 shooting, to lead one last push midway through the fourth is borderline incomprehensible. A team that might be without its No. 1 option for Game 3 and possibly beyond does not have the luxury of waiving the white flag on the road. This is when the Pacers have to bank on themselves to level-up.

The Celtics just illustrated how shaky they can be in crunch time. They choked away postseason games before, and Rick Carlisle should have at least left that possibility open in Game 2.

Pacers' Myles Turner flops after notable Game 1

Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner (33) shoots the ball against Boston Celtics center Luke Kornet (40) in the second quarter during game one of the eastern conference finals for the 2024 NBA playoffs at TD Garden.
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Myles Turner entered this series as a possible difference-maker who could garner momentum for the Pacers by feasting in the paint. The veteran center posted a double-double of 23 points and 10 rebounds on Tuesday, but he was a detriment Thursday night.

There is no other way to put it. Turner struggled on both ends of the floor. He mustered only eight points (3-of-7) and four boards and also committed four of Indiana's 16 turnovers. Aside from a meaningful flurry in the third quarter, the 2015 first-round draft pick failed to make his presence known.

Regardless of Haliburton's playing status going forward, it is imperative that Turner delivers for his team. He has been an unsung hero for most of the season, but he needs to assume a more prominent role in a must-win Game 3. His ability to change momentum on offense and defense is invaluable and should be on full display when the Pacers host their first conference finals matchup in 10 years.

Myles Turner has to exploit the Celtics' current lack of big-man depth, otherwise further blame will fall on his shoulders. There is no single scapegoat in this contest. The entire team is culpable. But the two-time blocking champion can set the tone. If he does, this underdog tale will be worth watching.

The 28-year-old could simply erase this substandard performance from his memory ahead of Saturday's tip-off. Turner would be smart, however, to use it as motivation. The Indiana Pacers were humbled as a unit in Game 2. Will their slingshot be more accurate in Gainbridge Fieldhouse?