Sunday , Apr , 25 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Pacers complete sweep of Celtics

Boston, MA (Sports Network) – Ron Artest scored 22 points to lead Indiana
over Boston, 90-75, as the Pacers completed the sweep in their Eastern
Conference quarterfinal set with the Celtics.

For only the second time in NBA history, a team swept a best-of-seven series
and won each game by 10-plus points.

Jermaine O’Neal netted 18 points for the Pacers, who will play the winner in
the Miami/New Orleans series in the second round.

“Obviously, it benefits us because the longer the New Orleans-Miami series
goes, we get to rest,” said Indiana guard Reggie Miller. “This is a big step
for the younger guys, especially Jermaine (O’Neal), it’s a big step for all of
us. The last three years, always going out in the first round and really
having a shot to win all of those series because of (home court) advantage, we
couldn’t seem to hold home court. This is a big step for this franchise,
mentally, psychologically, for us to be hopefully the champions. We had to get
out of the mind block in the first round.”

Paul Pierce posted 27 points and 11 rebounds for the Celtics, who were
eliminated in the first round for the first time since 1995 when they fell to
Orlando, 3-1. Mark Blount added 21 points and 13 boards.

Despite Sunday’s point-total for Pierce, the Celtics all-star struggled in the
series as Artest and the Pacers’ defense held him to 34 percent shooting
from the field in the four games.

“I really have a bad taste in my mouth,” said Pierce. “This is the second year
in a row we have been swept on our home court. That is really not a fun
feeling for you to go out there and not even get a win in the last two
(series). Those consecutive losses in the past, it definitely leaves a bad
taste in my mouth. I’m just very disappointed and don’t really know what to
say.”

Boston was also swept by New Jersey in last year’s Eastern Conference
semifinals.

The Celtics led 33-26 midway through the second quarter, but the Pacers closed
out the frame on a 20-5 run and they never looked back. O’Neal capped off the
burst, which covered 7:04, on two free throws with 21 seconds left to give his
team a 46-38 edge at the intermission.

Pierce made just one field goal in the second quarter and Boston was outshot
49 percent to 37 percent in the opening half.

Coming out of the locker room, the Celtics looked flat as the Pacers started
the third quarter with a 13-4 spurt. Reggie Miller completed the run on a
three-pointer midway through to put his team ahead, 59-42.

At the end of 36 minutes, Indiana held a comfortable 70-52 advantage.

The Celtics never cut the deficit down to single digits in the fourth quarter.

Boston won the rebound advantage 46-31, but could not overcome committing 26
turnovers.

The Celtics led 25-21 after a tightly contested first quarter.

The last time the Pacers swept a team out of the playoffs was in 1999, when
they dismissed the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

BOS IND