The Celtics trotted out their twin bigs lineup in an effort to find some of last years magic. The Pacers, who play big at all times were the perfect game to do it for. What unfolded was a game that will have us all salivating for this potential first round matchup.
The first half was a back and forth affair. The Celtics drew first blood in the first charging out to a 10-point lead led behind the balanced scoring efforts of Irving, Baynes, and Brown.
Al Horford gets it done on both sides of the court! pic.twitter.com/dYE6jBCBzw— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 29, 2019
The Pacers responded with an 18-5 run and took the lead briefly before a Celtics 8-0 run put them back in the drivers seat for the rest of the half. The Pacers did a solid job weathering the punches the Celtics threw every-time it looked like the Celtics could break ahead. The Pacers made it a priority to try and attack mismatches frequently. It had some success, but the real story was Bojan Bogdanovic who had 18 first half points and his elite shot-making was the one variable that kept the Pacers in the game. On the flip side, the Celtics had four guys in double-figures and were able to amass 18 assists on 25 FGM’s, an indicator on how well their offense was running on its way to 63-point half. When the smoke cleared from the two playoff squads, Boston was left holding a slim 63-60 lead.
The 3rd quarter initially belonged to Kyrie Irving who started the frame scoring the first 10 Celtics points of within the first two minutes. The spurt gave the Celtics a 9-point cushion.
A quick outlet to Irving gives him another trey! He's scored 10 points in the first two minutes of the third pic.twitter.com/MmohIZefBc— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 30, 2019
Boston pushed the lead to as much as 12 and looked like they were ready to break the game wide open, but in true Pacers fashion they responded with a 20-8 run of their own lead by some out of body shooting from Myles Turner and Bogdanovic. The Celtics were able to keep the Pacers from extending the lead, but ultimately went into the 4th down 91-89 after it looked like they may be able to run away with the game.
The last period was a bloodbath. Halfway, the Celtics were holding on the marginal one-point lead with neither team able to gain the upper hand. The Celtics had some trouble keeping the Sabonis-Leaf front court off the boards when they went with a one-big lineup, but were able to generate some good looks on the offensive end. The Celtics finally broke through a bit when their starters entered the game, going on a 7-0 to take their lead up to 6 after a Jaylen Brown three-pointer.
The run was short-lived, however. The Pacers quickly countered with a 6-0 run to tie the game at 105. The Celtics again struggled defending the two-big lineups with one big and tried things like doubling the post which the Pacers shredded with timely cuts.
From there, things got a little nuts. The teams traded off the next 10 points to find themselves knotted up at 110. Smart nailed a prayer three-pointer as the time expired, but the Collinson responded on the other end. An Irving layup gave the Celtics a 112-110 lead and what looked like a potential Irving steal and a fast break opportunity suddenly turned into a big Pacers bucket when Bogdanovic dived on the floor and got it to Darren Collinson who found Thaddeus Young under the basket to tie the game at 112.
On the ensuing possession after a Celtics turnover, which proceeded an awful missed layup by Young, Collinson missed a contested elbow jumper giving the Celtics the ball with a tick above 10 seconds to go.
With the game on the line, the Celtics went to the one and only, and he delivered:
With about 0.5 seconds left, the Pacers had one last shot, but the Celtics guarded the inbound to perfection and Hayward was able to tip away a cross-court pass to Doug McDermott before he was able to get a shot off.
I need seven more of that.
TRAGS AND PAVON GAME RECAP: