Win probabilities highlight brutal Pacers collapse vs. Celtics


A four-game Celtics sweep could have easily been a 3-1 Pacers lead.

The Pacers, eliminated Monday with a 105-102 home loss in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals, blew three games in the series in which they had a win probability of at least 90 percent, per ESPN, in the second half, including twice in the fourth quarter, as chronicled by X user @MikeKennedyNFL.

Indiana had a 97.4 percent win probability in the final minute of Game 1, a 95.1 percent win probability while leading by 18 in the third quarter of Game 3 and held a 90.6 percent win probability in Monday’s elimination game while leading by nine with less than nine minutes remaining.

The Celtics celebrate their sweep. AP

“I look at the process and the level of fight, our situation with personnel, all that kind of stuff,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “There’s no excuses. These guys — Boston has a great team. … They’re opportunistic, they don’t want this thing to go on any longer. Give them credit for the stuff they pulled off at the end of the last two games. They simply made more plays. … They made key shots, we were unable.”

Aside from a blowout in Game 2, Boston and Indiana produced three hard-fought games that came down to the wire and easily could have gone Indiana’s way.

The Pacers’ inexperience seemingly hindered their late-game execution, and they failed to make winning plays when it mattered most.

Game 1 proved to be an omen for the series.

Indiana had a 97.4 percent chance to win with 10 seconds left when it had the ball up three points, but a turnover on an inbounds pass led to Jaylen Brown’s game-tying 3-pointer.

Boston used that momentum to escape with a 133-128 win in overtime.

Jaylen Brown’s game-tying 3-pointer in Game 1. AP

In Game 3, Indiana had a 95.1 percent chance of winning after grabbing an 84-66 lead with 6:04 remaining in the third quarter.

Boston then outscored Indiana 33-21 in the fourth quarter to steal a 114-111 win.

In Game 4, the Pacers grabbed a 94-85 lead with 8:42 remaining that pushed their win probability to 90.6 percent, but it again proved misleading.

Boston closed the game on a 20-8 run, including a 7-0 run in the 3:30 to secure the win.

The Pacers blew three late leads in the series. Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Pacers scored their last basket with 3:32 remaining, missing four shots and turning the ball over twice in their final six possessions.

“We gambled probably five times in the second half that led to at least 10 points for them,” Carlisle said. “Those are discipline-type things you have to learn in this atmosphere. … Those are some of the lessons.”

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