The Boston Celtics hope to break out the brooms in Indiana on Easter Sunday. Boston took Game 3 in Indianapolis on Friday night, seizing a commanding 3-0 series lead in a 104-96 win.
It was another back and forth affair, one which saw Boston come out firing in the first quarter. The Celtics hit nine threes in the quarter and built a 41-28 lead after just 12 minutes. Boston shot 67 percent from the field in the first, but the Pacers battled back with some great shooting of their own, sparking a 17-3 run to actually take a slim lead into the half.
The score remained close in the third and into the fourth, but the Pacers have struggled for periods of time in the second half of both games. They blew a 12-point fourth quarter lead in Game 2, watching Kyrie Irving take over at the Garden. This time, Jaylen Brown led Celtics scorers with 23 points on the night. He missed just one shot from the field and went 4-of-5 from three, and he was the motor behind the Celtics’ fast start.
On Friday, a number of Celtics players shined, but once again, Irving was brilliant in crunch time. Irving finished with 19 points, 10 assists and five rebounds on the night. And with the Celtics holding a slim margin late in the fourth, he came through. He came up with a through-the-legs steal and then put on a show on the other end, first throwing a jump-pass down low and, later on the same possession, finding room on a drive and off-angle shot to give Boston a four-point lead.
Al Horford then hit a three on a feed from Kyrie, breaking down the double team and finding space inside. It felt like Irving was key on every Celtics point in the closing minutes, following up a 37-point performance in Game 2 with another brilliant outing to put Boston in the driver’s seat in the seven-game series.
The Celtics hope to close it out on Sunday afternoon in Indiana, while the Pacers — who had seven scorers in double digits on Friday night — continue to search for answers against Boston this season.