If the Celtics and the Indiana Pacers wind up meeting in the postseason, make sure to buckle up.
In a hyper-competitive game played with playoff intensity, the Celtics, playing the second night of a back-to-back against a team that came in 25-6 at home, bounced back from a 14-point, second half deficit and got a layup from Jeff Green with 0.5 seconds left to beat the Pacers 83-81. Green used a perfect screen from Paul Pierce to lose his man and took a high pass from Kevin Garnett to lay it in for one of the biggest, most important wins of the season.
The Celts trailed most of the night before outscoring the Pacers 25-13 in the fourth quarter to come away with the victory. Pierce, who called this one the best win of the year in a post-game interview, hit two big three-pointers in the fourth quarter while KG had 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting to go with 10 rebounds and a couple of blocks. He passed Wes Unseld for 10th all time in rebounding with 13,774.
Avery Bradley added 13 points for the Celts, who shot just 40 percent for the game. Pierce finished with 13, eight rebounds and four assists after making just one field goal in the first half, while Green added 11 and seven boards and Jason Terry chipped in 10. The Celts, who were pounded down low for the first three quarters, outscored Indy 14-2 in the paint in the fourth.
The Pacers, who lived up to their reputation as one of the toughest, best defensive teams in the league, fell apart in the fourth quarter. Roy Hibbert scored 12 points in the first eight minutes then failed to score again for the remainder of the game. All five Pacers' starters finished in double figures. Indy followed up a 20-7 run by the Celts with an 11-3 run before going quiet down the stretch.
For more on this tremendous, potentially season-altering win for the Celts from the Pacers' perspective, hit up Indy Cornrows.