Tuesday, 19 November, 2019

Celtics say Horford available to play vs. Pacers

Boston Celtics' Jayson Tatum goes in alone to the basket as Indiana Pacers' Bojan Bogdanovic looks on during the second quarter in Game 1 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series Sunday Indiana Pacers vs. Boston Celtics Prediction, Preview, and Odds - 4-17-2019
Shannon Reynolds | 18 April, 2019, 10:50

The Indian Pacers are not going to have fun watching film of the final minute of their loss the Boston Celtics in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series on Wednesday night.

In Game 2, Boston seized on a fourth-quarter collapse by Indiana. For a moment, IN made that third-quarter letdown a distant memory, outscoring Boston 29-16 IN the third quarter of Game 2 to take an 11-point lead into the fourth.

Coming out of a timeout and with a chance for IN to tie, the Pacers' Wesley Matthews threw an inbounds pass into the bench on the other side of the court with 12.1 seconds left.

The Pacers then turned over the ball with a chance to tie, and the Celtics pulled away with a 3-point play by Tatum and two late free throws by Hayward. With Irving on the bench, the Celtics responded with an 8-0 run.

"I just get really excited", Tatum said of locking in during the Playoffs. "From having those two knee surgeries and watching the team a year ago and finally getting chance to lace them up for the Boston Celtics in the National Basketball Association playoffs - it's nothing like it".

Despite trailing 79-68 after three quarters, the Celtics found an extra gear down the stretch, holding the Pacers to just 12 fourth-quarter points.

"It's always been one quarter that kills us in the second half", Thaddeus Young said. "We made some big time plays on the defensive end, getting some defensive rebounds, making them miss, and just staying aggressive and staying poised down the stretch".

IN closed as a 7.5-point underdog.

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Kyrie Irving led the way with 37 points on the night, while Jayson Tatum added 26, with the duo combining to shoot 56.5 percent for their 63 points.

Indiana's Myles Turner had two very loud blocks on the night but managed to score just eight points. Over a three-possession span, the 21-year-old wing hit a go-ahead 3-pointer, assisted on a Gordon Hayward lay-up, and then hammered the nail in the coffin with an and-one dunk. The Celtics' lead was 13 after three quarters and was as many as 22 in the fourth quarter before the team went scoreless over the final 3:34, allowing in to make the final score more respectable.

After Matthews couldn't connect on a 3-point try at the IN end, Gordon Hayward dropped IN a layup with 12.1 seconds remaining to increase the Boston lead to 94-91.

After a Bogdan Bogdanovic three-pointer gave IN a late lead, Tatum went down the other end and put his team up two with 50.8 seconds left, draining this three-pointer from the corner. Jaylen Brown (one of five from the floor, zero for three from three-point range, two points in 28 minutes) and Terry Rozier (1 of 6 from the field, 1 of 3 from long range, five points in 18 minutes) have to be better offensively to help step up for the missing Marcus Smart. The defence was still there.

Horford was a game-time decision with an illness but was able to remain in the Celtics' starting lineup.

In between the first and second quarters, Belichick, wearing jeans and a suit jacket over a light blue button-down shirt, cracked a smile upon being shown on the center-court video board. He didn't score his first points until the fourth, finishing with four points, 10 rebounds and four assists for the game. "It was a gritty win". Boston rallied in the second half to win the opening game fo the series, 84-74, Sunday afternoon to draw first blood in the set. It marked just was just third of the season. The Celtics seized on it, outscoring them 23-17 in the quarter and taking a 52-50 halftime lead.

The Pacers shot 65 per cent in the first quarter, but were just 7 for 20 from the field and 0 for 7 from beyond the 3-point arc in the second.

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