It didn’t always look pretty, but the Boston Celtics finished off their six-game road trip with a 4-2 record, including a 23-point win over the playoff-bound Sacramento Kings. On Friday evening, they returned home to the TD Garden looking to build momentum on their homecourt, and for a night, they did exactly that. Bolstered by a flurry of three-pointers, the Celtics jumped on the Indiana Pacers in the second half, and scored a blowout 120-95 win.
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown served as the North Star for the Celtics this evening, combining for 61 points and six made threes on the night. With Malcolm Brogdon a late scratch due to back soreness, Derrick White enjoyed an increased workload and added 22 points, nine assists and five made threes, and Robert Williams III stuffed the stat sheet in his second game back from injury, with a 4-8-1-3-3 stat line in just 16 minutes. Tyrese Haliburton and Myles Turner scored 20 points apiece for the Pacers.
Oftentimes this season, it has felt like the Celtics have ebbed and flowed with their three-point jumpers. In the early going today, they flowed. They connected on five threes from different players in the first eight minutes of the game, helping them keep pace with a feisty Indiana offense — and compensating for some uncharacteristically sloppy ball-handling. Both sides cracked the 30-point threshold in the first quarter, with the Celtics holding a two-point lead heading into the second, 34-32.
The other significant factor in the Celtics’ favor? Jayson Tatum. Having struggled to score efficiently since the All-Star break, the Celtics’ superstar looked to take a different approach to tonight’s game. He was more aggressive going downhill this evening, trading some of his volume shooting from range for smooth drives to the basket, finishing at the rim or fighting his way to the free throw line. He recorded 21 points in the first half.
Finding separation from this Indiana team proved to be a challenge. Led by another strong effort from Turner, who has enjoyed some success in the Celtics matchup this season, they kept the game within one possession for much of the second quarter. Though the Celtics drove the lead as high as 10 points late in the quarter, the Pacers came up with some timely shot-making in response, and Boston lead at the half was just five points, 60-55.
As the second half began, a lightning-fast 9-2 run — capped off by a steal and pull-up three from Brown — quickly established the Celtics as the frontrunners. The lead extended into double-digits, and that’s where it stayed for the duration of the third quarter. Brown led the surge with his trademark aggressive scoring, and White added a pair of three-pointers. The Indiana offense finally started to falter, in part due to a lack of outside shooting — they shot just 4-of-26 from three on the evening — and the Celtics led by 16 entering the final frame, 92-76.
White opened the fourth quarter scoring with his fourth three of the game, and Sam Hauser followed it up with his second moments later. After a Pacer timeout, the run quickly blossomed to 14-2, and the rout was on in earnest. Staring down the second half of a back-to-back in Atlanta on Saturday evening, Indiana coach Rick Carlisle was quick to empty the bench, and the Pacers pulled their regulars with just over seven minutes remaining in regulation.
Next up, the Celtics will face another team on the outside of the playoff picture, hosting a San Antonio Spurs team with one eye on the draft lottery this Sunday at 6 PM EST on NBC Sports Boston.