Celtics battle for road win, take 3-0 series advantage over Pacers

Nick Friar
April 19, 2019 - 11:27 pm

The Pacers desperately needed a win in Game 3 and approached contest accordingly, from start to finish. That still wasn’t enough to knock off the Celtics, who matched Indiana’s intensity throughout, taking Game 3 104-96 on the road.

With the exception of the Pacers’ response in the second quarter and their stretch of four consecutive offensive rebounds in one possession in the third quarter, the Celtics weren’t outhustled at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

And they were led, once again, by Kyrie Irving.

While Boston’s guard finished with a double-double (19 points and 10 assists) along with five rebounds, that doesn’t sufficiently depict what he did for the green.

Although they lost by eight, the Pacers had opportunities to gain an edge and walk out with a win. But with the score at 91-89, Irving took advantage of a mis-dribble by Bojan Bogdanovic, swiped it and hit a fade-away 16-footer on the offensive end to give Boston a 93-91 advantage.

Following a failed offensive possession for Indiana, Irving drove to the rim, drawing two defenders, the second being Domantas Sabonis, giving Al Horford a wide open look from deep to make it 96-89, advantage Celtics with 2:55 left in the game.

From there, Boston never led by less than five points.

Irving wasn’t the only one who maintained his play from the first two games of the series. Jayson Tatum had another efficient night from the floor, scoring 18 on 8 of 16 shooting. He didn’t look for many opportunities from the outside (1-for-3 from deep) but was able to create space from the low block-extended and finished his opportunities at the rim.

Most surprising of all was the Celtics who led the team in scoring. It wasn’t Irving or Tatum, the two who’ve been there every night offensively for Boston. It was a player who scored a combined eight points between Game 1 and 2.

Jaylen Brown.

The C’s shooting guard had a near-perfect shooting night, only missing his final shot attempt of the game at 4:44 in the fourth — by a lot — to finish 8-for-9 from the field, 4-for-5 from deep, good for 23 points.

Boston narrowly won the battle on the glass 45-40 and lost the turnover battle 13-11.

The Celtics most notable issue was their work at the free-throw line. They shot a miserable 59.1 percent (13-for-22) versus the Pacers’ 73.9 percent (17-for-23). Oddly enough, Brown’s struggles at the line were most apparent, going 3-for-7. Tatum didn’t do well from the charity stripe either, missing three of his four attempts. That’s not going to fly if the Celtics advance further in the Playoffs and face superior offensive teams — which is looking more and more realistic with their 3-0 series advantage.