Putting up 38 points in a single quarter in most NBA Playoffs clashes would net a team a win. But, the pace and space era of the league along with the three-point revolution made any lead vanquishable. Rick Carlisle and the Indiana Pacers have constantly needed to learn that the hard way. TJ McConnell, Pascal Siakam, and Andrew Nembhard were all blazing up the Boston Celtics defense until they weren't. What happened exactly and who disappeared when their home crowd needed them most?

Pacers unable to finish at the cup

May 23, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA;Indiana Pacers guard Andrew Nembhard (2) dribbles the ball against Boston Celtics guard Jrue Holiday (4) in the first half during game two of the eastern conference finals for the 2024 NBA playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
© David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Everything was under the Pacers' control before the second half started. They led by as much as 18 points and entered halftime with a 12-point lead. Unfortunately, not all good things last in the NBA Playoffs. This is most especially true when the squad that they are facing is a historically dominant Celtics squad. In the last two quarters, Rick Carlisle's squad could not quite get anything going. They were limited to just 21 points in each of those periods. It looked worse in the clutch when Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Al Horford, and the rest of the Celtics notched 33 points.

A big reason for this collapse in the clutch was there was not much penetration in the paint. Most shots taken by the Pacers were from the outside. They mostly came from TJ McConnell and Andrew Nembhard. The fact that those opportunities from beyond the arc were not getting the ball at the bottom of the net made the situation more drastic. To put it into perspective, this squad only managed to sink 22.7% of their shots from three. 

Again, something was working for the Pacers which they no longer utilized in the clutch. It was the fact that they were no longer hunting for matchups for easy driving lanes to the cup. While the variety in offensive schemes is largely important in the NBA Playoffs, their 68 points in the paint proved that they could dominate had they gone with the same strategy. Al Horford, Derrick White, Jayson Tatum, and Xavier Tillman were all bound to get famished anyway.

Pascal Siakam disappears against the Celtics

A large reason why the Pacers went up as big was because of penetration. Pascal Siakam got into the post or the dunker's spot for easy buckets. That same scheme was no longer utilized as much in the second half. This rendered the Pacers' offense to be easily predictable come crunch time. His last made field goal in the game? It was at the six-minute mark. He then tried to bait the Celtics defense into a foul but there was no whistle called. So, it was just a smoked layup with 49 seconds remaining in the game. After that, it was all just fouls from him.

Pascal Siakam still netted 18 points on 50% shooting by the end of this NBA Playoffs clash. With Tyrese Haliburton out, Rick Carlisle could have really his used his veteran acumen along with the championship experience he had to close this one out. But, it was just to no avail. Sure, Joe Mazzulla shut him down by getting sealed early into the Pacers' sets. But, his shotmaking in the post should have shined a little bit more because the moment called for it.