Everything you need to know about the Celtics 99-91 win over the Pacers to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven first round series with BSJ insight and analysis.
Fourth quarter saves Celtics: The Celtics were in grave danger of losing homecourt advantage in the best-of-seven series after the Pacers built a 12-point lead early in the fourth quarter against a Celtics offense that was struggling to score (just 16 third-quarter points). The hosts took command though with one of their best defensive stretches of the year, opening the frame with an 18-3 run which included a seven-minute scoring drought by the visitors to pull their way back into the game. After a back-and-forth battle at the beginning of crunch time in the midst of a one possession, the Celtics seized control yet again in the final two minutes, closing out the win with a 10-0 run behind the hot shooting of Kyrie Irving (game-high 37 points) and playmaking from Jayson Tatum (10 of 26 points in the fourth quarter) and Jaylen Brown (go-ahead assist). The Pacers managed just 23 percent shooting in the final quarter as Boston used a 31-12 quarter to turn the tide and give themselves a 2-0 series lead in the best-of-seven battle.
Kyrie carries the offense: Al Horford did not look like himself for most of the night on the offensive end after dealing with an illness during the day, which limited his scoring to a season-low four points. Without his offense, Irving took his offense to another level to keep the Celtics in the game against a gritty Pacers defense, posting a game-high 37 points on 15-of-26 shooting from the field and 6-of-10 from 3-point range. He also dished out a team-high seven assists and scored nine of his 37 points in the fourth quarter. Those contributions combined with another highly efficient performance from Tatum (26 points, 11-of-20 FG, 3-of-6 3pt range) enabled the Celtics to outlast a pesky Pacers squad that outplayed the hosts for the better part of the first three quarters.
Horford blocked Bojan Bogdanovic on a drive with 58 seconds remaining under the basket with the Pacers nursing a 91-89 lead. Brown corralled the loose ball and immediately pushed the ball up the floor, driving it straight to the hoop as multiple Pacer defenders collapsed on him. He kicked the ball out to Tatum for a wide open corner 3, which ended up being the game-winning basket for Boston, jumpstarting the game-closing 10-0 run.
Jaylen Brown's interaction w/ Brad Stevens after this huge kick-out to Tatum: "He was just smiling, said it was a hell of a play. I said to him, 'You probably thought I was going to lay it up, didn’t you?' He laughed and said, 'Nah, I knew you were going to make the right play.'" pic.twitter.com/GAoLQufjGO
— Taylor Snow (@taylorcsnow) April 18, 2019