Rick Carlisle Shoulders Blame for Pacers' Game 1 Loss to Celtics

Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle watches from the sideline during Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.
Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle watches from the sideline during Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals. / David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Indiana Pacers squandered a chance to steal Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals from the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on Tuesday night.

Shortly after the final buzzer sounded, Pacers coach Rick Carlisle made it crystal clear who he is blaming for the 133–128 overtime loss.

“This loss is totally on me," Carlisle said during his postgame press conference. "With 10 seconds in regulation, we should’ve just taken the timeout, advanced the ball, found a way to get it in, made a free throw or two, and ended the game. It didn't happen."

The Pacers took a three-point lead on Andrew Nembhard's triple with 46 seconds left. They got a stop, turned the ball over, and got another stop.

But with 10 seconds left, Nembhard's inbounds pass intended for Pascal Siakam went off the forward's hands and out of bounds. The Celtics took possession and tied the game on a Jaylen Brown three-pointer from the corner over Siakam.

That possession also sent criticism Carlisle's way. Up three points, the Pacers could have fouled Brown and sent him to the free-throw line for two shots instead of allowing him to attempt a game-tying three-pointer.

Carlisle told reporters after the game that he instructed the Pacers to foul in that situation but understands why Siakam opted not to.

"[Brown] caught the ball and he was face up, so Pascal decided to lay off, which I understand that's probably the right decision," Carlisle said. "You don't want to give up a four-point play."

Tyrese Haliburton, who registered 25 points on 8-of-18 shooting with 10 assists and three steals, didn't agree with his coach accepting responsibility for the late-game miscues.

"That’s not on him," Haliburton said. "That's not on him. As players, we have to do a better job. I had two bad turnovers that I feel like cost us the game. … I understand he’s protecting us ... but I’ll take that more than he should.”

No matter who takes the blame, the Pacers will enter Game 2 at TD Garden on Thursday night with a 1–0 series deficit.

Tom Dierberger


Tom Dierberger is a writer and editor for the Breaking & Trending News Team at Sports Illustrated. Tom joined SI in 2023 after stints at FOX Sports, Bally Sports, and NBC Sports. In his spare time, Tom can be seen throwing out his arm while playing fetch with his dog, Walter B. Boy.