Saturday , Apr , 17 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Pacers pound Celtics to kick off NBA playoffs

Indianapolis, IN (Sports Network) – Jermaine O’Neal posted game-highs with 24
points and 11 rebounds to lead Indiana over Boston, 104-88, at Conseco
Fieldhouse in Game 1 of an Eastern Conference quarterfinals matchup.

Ron Artest also scored 24 points for the top-seeded Pacers, who started their
quest towards earning their second berth in the NBA Finals in five seasons on
a positive note.

The Pacers, who took three of the four meetings with the Celtics during the
season, improved to 35-7 at home this season.

Paul Pierce collected 20 points and 10 boards for the eighth-seeded Celtics,
who backed into the playoffs after dropping five of their last six games of
the regular season.

The game was tied up 35-35 early in the second quarter, but the Pacers
responded with a 15-1 run and they never looked back. Al Harrington capped off
the burst on a bucket with 5:33 left in the frame to put the Pacers ahead,

Harrington, who averaged just 3.0 points in last season’s first-round
playoff loss to Boston, added 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Pacers.

The Celtics played tough in the first quarter only trailing 30-29 after the
opening 12 minutes. But Boston was outscored 35-14 in the second and went into
the intermission down 65-43.

After shooting 55 percent from the field in the first quarter, the Celtics
were actually outshot 52 percent to 36 percent from the field in the first

For the game, The Pacers shot 46 percent from the field, won the rebound
margin 46-38 and forced 22 Boston turnovers.

The Pacers led by as many as 29 in the second half as they cruised to the

In the fourth, Boston tallied 12 unanswered points to trim the deficit to
92-76 on a Ricky Davis basket with 8:11 remaining, but it was too little too

Davis and Chucky Atkins each finished with 19 points for Boston.

This is a best-of-seven series, with Game 2 scheduled for Tuesday at Indiana.

This is the fourth first round playoff meeting between the two teams, as the
Celtics walked away with a win in all four previous meetings. Indiana team
president Larry Bird helped Boston defeat the Pacers in a classic five-game
series in 1991 before sweeping Indiana the following year.