It's a sweep: Bench helps hand Celtics series-clinching win over Pacers

Nick Friar
April 21, 2019 - 4:10 pm

Despite the Celtics finishing with their highest point total of the series, finishing off the Pacers 110-106, Game 4 was far from pretty.

The Celtics couldn’t get things going offensively in the first half with Darren Collison and Cory Joseph playing air-tight defense on Kyrie Irving while the Pacers big men jammed the paint. But the Pacers failed to take advantage of Boston’s subpar shooting, missing bunny after bunny. They never led the C’s by more than seven points.

Irving wasn’t the only Celtic to struggle throughout the contest. Outside of a brief run in the third quarter, Al Horford could not find his shot. The pair finished 8-for-32  (25 percent) from the floor. They did manage to cash in at the free-throw line, only missing one attempt apiece (11-for-13 combined).

Regardless, the Celtics survived and advanced thanks to their bench’s efforts and the Pacers’ inept offense.

Marcus Morris, Terry Rozier and Gordon Hayward collectively went 18-for-26 to combine for 49 points. Each, however, contributed in a different manner. Rozier didn’t force the issue by any stretch, even though he went 4-for-6 from the floor. Morris did what he does best: finish shots from the free-throw line extended, regardless of space. He also went 2-for-4 from deep.

Hayward led the C’s with 20 points, turning things up in the second half with what felt like a delayed response from being posterized by Myles Turner in the second quarter. He finished 7-for-9 from the field, working in the paint and from long-range (3-for-3 from deep).

The Celtics were much improved from the free-throw line as a whole, converting 79.4 percent of their attempts from the line (27-for-34) after an abysmal showing in Game 3 (59.1 percent). Jayson Tatum led the Celtics in free throw attempts (12), but he was also the only Celtics player to miss more than one (three).

On the whole, Tatum still finished with 18 points, tied with Morris for second on the team to maintain his strong output throughout entire series. Above all else, Tatum’s aggression at the rim was most noticeable in Game 4. He had multiple opportunities in transition, but some of his better plays came early in the game within the half-court offense. Perhaps his best came in the first quarter when he trailed Irving into the paint as multiple Pacers swarmed Boston’s point guard, leaving the lane wide open for Tatum.

The Celtics were on the wrong end of the turnover battle (17-12), but they limited the Pacers’ scoring on those mistakes, only surrendering 16 points. Meanwhile, Boston scored 15 points off of turnovers.

This is the first time the Celtics have swept an opponent in a playoff series since the 2010-2011 team knocked off the New York Knicks in the first round.