How Jrue Holiday stole last-minute Celtics-sealed Game 3 comeback over Pacers: 4 takeaways

Written by Eric Nehm, James Boyd, Jay King, Jared Weiss, and Mark Beaulieu

The Boston Celtics cut an eight-point deficit in the final three minutes to come back and win Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals 114-111 over the Indiana Pacers.

The Celtics take a 3-0 lead with the win. Neither team has been able to come back from a 3-0 series deficit to win.

Jayson Tatum contributed to Boston’s efforts throughout the game, and finished the game with 36 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists. His biggest cent was a behind-the-back laser to Al Horford in the corner, who buried a three to cut the deficit to two points with just over a minute to play. The third goal was Horford’s seventh of the game as the 36-year-old finished with 23 points, five rebounds and three blocks.

However, a missed layup by Tatum with less than 10 seconds to play gave the Pacers one last chance for the game-winning goal. Until Jrue Holiday stripped Andrew Nembhard.

Holiday, who scored the go-ahead touchdown with 38 seconds left, tapped the ball into Nembhard’s pocket and then drew a foul on the other end to seal the win. Holiday finished with 14 points, nine rebounds and three steals.

Nembhard excelled for Indiana in the absence of Pacers’ NBA guard Tyrese Haliburton, scoring 32 points and providing nine assists.

Game 4 at Indiana State on Monday.

What woke up Boston?

For most of this game, it looked like the Pacers had stolen the Celtics’ identity as they searched for an answer without Haliburton. They’ve been spamming the mismatch post, cleaning up every time the Celtics guard turns to Myles Turner or Pascal Siakam. Celtics defensive backs Holiday and Derrick White were torched all over the place.

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But Boston kept knocking down 3s all night and steadily clawed its way back. With the game on the line, White and Holiday made huge defensive plays to steal the win, and most likely, the series.

With Haliburton potentially losing their fourth playoff game, the Celtics are in a great position to advance to the NBA Finals. This is not a surprise. This game showed that Boston’s high-volume 3-pointer style can hold up against hotter shooting teams and that Celtics defenders can step up to secure these types of plays. The road through the East remains clear for them while their opponent’s best player continues to go down. But they still face big tests anyway and pass them well. — Jared Weiss, Celtics beat writer

TJ McConnell, Pacers bench Not enough to be upset

Surrender is not in TJ McConnell’s DNA.

Coming out of Arizona in 2015, the Pacers’ backup point guard is having the best season of his career and stuck around when Indiana needed him most. Despite Haliburton being sidelined, Indiana coach Rick Carlisle made the right decision Saturday by continuing to bring McConnell off the bench.

The veteran provided his usual spark with timely buckets and stops, all while electrifying the crowd. After fouling Horford offensively and taking him to the ground midway through the third quarter, McConnell popped back up and simply stared at the sea of ​​Pacers fans in front of him as if to say: “Bring it on.”

McConnell’s valiant efforts led to a lopsided bench performance for the Pacers. Indiana’s reserves outscored Boston 31-4, with McConnell leading the way with 23 points, nine rebounds and six assists in 29 minutes. He scored seven points in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Celtics, who erased a nine-point deficit in the final frame to remain unbeaten on the road in the playoffs.

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Needless to say, Indiana’s season ended after falling into an 0-3 hole, from which no team in NBA history has ever returned. — James Boyd is a writer from Indiana

The Celtics need to sharpen up

Without Haliburton, the Pacers continued to play with their usual freedom. They took on a new mentality, especially since all their other guards were chasing their offense inside the arc. Haliburton usually shoots mostly 3-pointers. Nembhard, McConnell and Siakam have done their job near the bucket. The Pacers didn’t make their first 3 until midway through the second quarter, but they still dominated the Celtics defense with possession in the paint.

Boston gave up 42 points in the paint during the first half, which is a huge number. The most the Celtics have surrendered during the regular season is 70. Interestingly enough, that came in early November against a Pacers team that lost Haliburton. Boston won this game 155-104, but had a much tougher time on Saturday night.

Turner took six shots in the first half, all in the paint. Nembhard, McConnell and Siakam combined to go 14-for-20 from inside the paint before halftime. It took the Celtics until the third quarter to find the momentum they needed.

They still won. They made a great comeback. However, if they win another game to close out this series, they will need to be sharper in the upcoming finals. They won’t be able to get away with such a below-average effort, which they have now put in in each of their three series so far. The Celtics need to tighten things up going forward, but they made enough plays late to steal this game on the road. The holiday, which I played while sick, was incredibly late. — Jay King, Celtics beat writer

The Pacers’ best effort isn’t enough

Without Haliburton, the Pacers needed to put together their best team effort of the postseason, and they gave that effort on Saturday, but it wasn’t enough as the Celtics overcame a 12-point first-half deficit and stole Game 3 to hand over to the Pacers. Their first loss at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in the postseason. Now, the Pacers are up against the wall in Game 4 on Monday in Indianapolis.

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The Pacers started the game playing strong. They led 69-57 at halftime behind 42 points in the paint on 21-of-30 shooting from the lane. After struggling to figure out how to get dangerous spots on the floor against the Celtics in their first two games, the Pacers made it simple and put their biggest players near the rim. But the Celtics overcame that in the second half with steals and outscored the Pacers 48-27 in the final 18 minutes of the game.

The Pacers had four players — McConnell, Nembhard, Siakam, Turner — score more than 20 points on Saturday night, but it wasn’t enough. — Eric Nehm, NBA writer

Required reading

(Photo: Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

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