After all of the turmoil during the regular season, the Boston Celtics became the first NBA team to advance into the second round of the playoffs. On Sunday, the Celtics completed the four-game sweep of the Indiana Pacers with a 110-106 victory.
Once again, the Pacers fought valiantly. This time, the Celtics didn’t need a gigantic second half run to ruin the Pacers’ day. Instead, they methodically put the undermanned fifth seed out of their misery. Yet, the Celtics still scored 37 fourth quarter points to make sure they squeaked out a win.
Gordon Hayward came off the bench to score 20 points on 7 of 9 shooting. He was also a victim of a body snatcher by Myles Turner in the second quarter. The monster dunk was one of the highlights for the Pacers, however, the Celtics were undeterred in their quest for a future date with the Milwaukee Bucks.
Marcus Morris and Terry Rozier made sure Hayward wasn’t alone in providing bench points. Morris poured in 18 points, while Rozier dropped in 11 points. In all, they provided 49 bench points for the surging Celtics. In all, the trio shot 18 of 26 from the field.
Meanwhile, Jayson Tatum led the starters with 18 points. Al Horford finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Kyrie Irving didn’t have his usual offensive repertoire flowing. However, he still finished with 14 points on 4 of 13 shooting. Irving missed all four of his 3-point attempts, while making 6 of 7 shots from the free throw line. With Irving’s lackluster performance it was up to the bench to keep pace with Indiana.
The Pacers led at the half for the third time in four games. Unfortunately, they were never able to capitalize on their strong starts. Moreover, the Pacers just didn’t have enough offense to win these games. In fact, they didn’t reach the 100-point mark until Game 4. However, the Celtics also scored a series high on Sunday.
Clearly, a healthy Victor Oladipo would have helped immensely on the offensive side of the ball. They lost the four games by a combined 30 points. None of the games were decided by more than 10 points. More importantly, the Pacers played well enough to win each game. Well, until the end of each contest. Without Oladipo, the Pacers failed to make winning plays down the stretch of each game.
Bojan Bogdanovic led the Pacers with 22 points and 8 rebounds. Darren Collison played his best game of the series with 19 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists. Yet, Wesley Matthews only scored three points in Game 4. In a game that’s decided by a couple of possessions, the Pacers needed Matthews to be more of a factor. Tyreke Evans came off the bench to score 21 points in the loss.
The Celtics didn’t have Marcus Smart for the entire series. He’s going to need some luck to be back for the start of the series with the Bucks. Currently, the Bucks are up (3-0). Now that the Celtics won, the Bucks will be motivated to finish off the Detroit Pistons in a sweep as well.