Jaylen Brown’s Big Night Helped The Celtics Cruise To A Game 2 Win Over The Pacers

The Boston Celtics are two wins away from the NBA Finals. After needing overtime and some good fortune to pick up a win in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Boston found Thursday night a little more drama free, as Jaylen Brown led his team to a 126-110 victory over the Indiana Pacers at TD Garden.

Boston was able to take a 57-51 lead into the locker room at halftime due to its ability to impose itself on the offensive glass. Being able to hammer Indiana off of your own misses was something we saw frequently during the Pacers’ series against the New York Knicks, and Boston was able to pummel its opponent to the tune of 10 offensive rebounds, 12 second chance points, and 28 points in the paint.

This level of physicality, mixed with a 24-point first half from Brown and a near double-double (10 points, seven assists) from Jrue Holiday, helped the Celtics extend their lead out to as many as 16 points in the first half. This all happened despite a bad half for Jayson Tatum, who had four points on 2-for-8 shooting with three turnovers.

While things had the potential to get away from the Pacers before they could regroup themselves at the half, Pascal Siakam had other ideas. Siakam was excellent in the game’s opening 24 minutes, going for 16 points on 8-for-9 shooting and four rebounds.

Siakam came out on fire in the third quarter, as he led the charge with 10 early points to get Indiana within two points. And from then on in, the game was totally controlled by the Celtics, which got just about anything they wanted on offense for much of the second half en route to 69 points in the third and fourth quarters combined. And with the worst possible news hitting the Pacers — Tyrese Haliburton had to leave the game with an injury to the leg that cost him 10 games earlier this season — they just could not keep up.

This was, in large part, because Brown ended up going for his playoff career-high. He was the best player on the floor, and Indiana just had zero answer for his ability to relentlessly attack their defense.

In a bit of a curious decision, Pacers coach Rick Carlisle seemed content to ride his bench as Boston extended its lead to as many as 17 points early on in the fourth. A pair of starters who struggled on the night, Aaron Nesmith and Myles Turner, did not play in the game’s final frame, while Siakam got taken out with 9:25 remaining and did not return. With Haliburton sidelined, the team’s fifth starter, Andrew Nembhard, played the majority of the fourth.

Joe Mazzulla, meanwhile, opted to keep three of his starters — Brown, Tatum, and Derrick White — in until there were 89 seconds remaining, and as such, Boston never let Indiana get within 13 points down the stretch.

Brown’s 40 points on 14-for-27 shooting led the Celtics, while both Tatum and White went for 23. Holiday got his double-double with 15 points and 10 assists, while Payton Pritchard provided 12 points off the bench. Siakam’s 28 points led Indiana but were not enough, while Nembhard had 16 and Obi Toppin scored 11 off the bench. Haliburton had 10 points and eight assists before he left the game, and now, there’s a race against time to see if he can get healthy before Game 3, because the already difficult uphill climb that the Pacers face becomes near impossible if their All-Star guard is unable to go.

If there is a reason for optimism, though, it is that Game 3 will take place in Indiana, where the Pacers have gone undefeated this postseason. Game 3 is scheduled to tip off at 8:30 p.m. EST on ABC this Saturday.