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INDIANAPOLIS – In case anyone forgot, Victor Oladipo reminded those in attendance at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Saturday night that he has some stake in this city.
Late-game heroics from Oladipo dethroned the Boston Celtics (6-3).
It was Oladipo hardly even moving the net on a game-winning three pointer with 4.7 seconds to play, giving Indiana (7-3) a 102-101 victory over the top team in the Eastern Conference.
Oladipo’s game winner came after a defensive stop and Nate McMillan deciding not to call a timeout once he saw his best player had the ball.
“I paused a little bit just to see if Nate wanted to call a timeout and he didn’t,” Oladipo said after his right wing three pointer.
“I think they thought I was going to go to the basket, honestly. Al Horford game me a little cushion as well. I just rose up and shot the ball with confidence.”
The Pacers’ All-Star guard scored the team’s final 7 points as Indiana fought back from a 13-point first half deficit to win on the second night of a back-to-back.
Boston came into Saturday night having won 4 straight games.
The Celtics were led by Marcus Morris’ 23 points off the bench. All-Star guard Kyrie Irving hit some massive shots late to push Boston ahead, before Oladipo stole the headlines.
After Oladipo’s shot, Indiana native Gordon Hayward (4 points on 2-of-10 shooting) threw away the in-bounds pass to seal the home victory for the Pacers.
On Saturday, the Pacers fought back into the game via a nice evening from their bench. Tyreke Evans (17 points), Domantas Sabonis (12 points) and T.J. Leaf (7 points) were key in Indiana erasing the early double-digit margin.
Considering the opponent, Saturday was definitely the most impressive win the Pacers have had this season.
“I told our guys we want to go out there and play like we believe we can win this game,” McMillan said of beating Boston. “The Celtics are a very good team, a lot of talent over there. We’re not going to make excuses for the schedule. This was a tough back-to-back, and all I asked our guys to do was play like you believe you can win this game.
“And they did.”
Three Pacers’ Takeaways:
–Victor Does It Again: I guess there’s something about Victor Oladipo feeling confident in shooting pull-up three pointers even when his team is down two points late. Oladipo made one last year against the Bulls and did it again on Saturday night. On the stat sheet, Oladipo’s shooting night wasn’t All-Star caliber: 6-of-18 from the floor and 4-of-13 from three. But he came up clutch when it mattered the most. Oladipo scored the Pacers’ final 7 points, all in the last minute. Teams long for having a go-to guy late in games who can deliver. Oladipo has shown on more than one occasion he can be that guy.
–Winning The Close Games: Since Oladipo’s arrival last season, the Pacers are 13-2 in games decided by three points or less. That is an incredible record for Indiana. Nate McMillan’s team started this season with 7 straight games decided by double figures. Each of their last three games have come down to the final minute and Indiana has won all three. For a team that lacks many individual creators, going 13-2 in those one-possession games is pretty remarkable. The bench helped the Pacers climb back into this one on Saturday before Oladipo did what stars do.
–Needed Night From Tyreke Evans: We’ve been waiting for Tyreke Evans to have nights like we saw on Saturday. It was Evans helping to spark the bench play and get the Pacers back into this game. Evans finished the evening with 17 points, and added 3 assists in 22 minutes off the bench. Going up against the best team in the East, this was the sort of game that the Pacers were thinking about when giving Evans a $12 million deal in July. The veteran guard played like that guy on Saturday, keeping Indiana in it after the starters got behind in the first quarter.
Pacers Upcoming Schedule
-Houston (Monday, 11/5)
-Philadelphia (Wednesday, 11/7)
-at Miami (Friday, 11/9)
-at Houston (Sunday, 11/11)
-Miami (Friday, 11/16)