Celtics claw back from 18-point deficit, beat Pacers in Game 3 to take commanding series lead - The Boston Globe (2024)

Table of Contents
Flava Flav got a special gift from Jrue Holiday — 1:05 a.m. Jayson Tatum’s perspective on Game 3 — 12:30 a.m. Al Horford’s thoughts on the Game 3 win — 12:05 a.m. What Joe Mazzulla said about the win — 11:55 p.m. Final: Celtics 114, Pacers 111 — 11:05 p.m. The Celtics have their first lead since the second quarter — 10:57 p.m. It’s a one-possession game with a minute and a half left — 10:55 p.m. The Celtics are putting up a fight, but Indiana is still out front — 10:46 p.m. The crowd in Indiana is on its feet — 10:44 p.m. Sam Hauser is not having a good night — 10:42 p.m. The Celtics are clawing their way back in it — 10:37 p.m. Takeaways from the third quarter — 10:30 p.m. End of 3: Pacers 90, Celtics 81 — 10:26 p.m. The Pacers are throwing something at the Celtics that Boston hasn’t seen this postseason — 10:25 p.m. Holiday can’t find his rhythm — 10:23 p.m. No 3-pointers? No problem for Indiana. — 10:20 p.m. Timeout, Pacers — 10:13 p.m. Tyrese Haliburton might be out, but he’s dressed to impress — 10:10 p.m. Indiana has the hot hand — 10:08 p.m. Adam Himmelsbach’s first-half takeaways — 10:00 p.m. Checking in on the stat sheet at halftime — 9:48 p.m. End of 2: Pacers 69, Celtics 57 — 9:42 p.m. The Pacers are catching fire — 9:39 p.m. Joe Mazzulla is trying something new — 9:37 p.m. Things are getting out of hand for the Celtics — 9:33 p.m. Pacers lead by 8, Celtics call a timeout — 9:27 p.m. Derrick White whistled for a flagrant foul — 9:24 p.m. Indiana has its first lead of the day — 9:16 p.m. Takeaways from the first quarter — 9:12 p.m. End of 1st: Celtics 32, Pacers 31 — 9:10 p.m. The Pacers are racking up fouls early — 9:08 p.m. An interesting look out on the floor — 9:03 p.m. A few celebrities are in the house — 9:02 p.m. Indiana is not backing down — 9:00 p.m. Derrick White is built different — 8:56 p.m. The Celtics are hot out of the gate — 8:48 p.m. Here we go! — 8:42 p.m. It’s nearly go time — 8:40 p.m. No surprises in the starting lineups — 8:15 p.m. Watch: How the Celtics can take a commanding lead in Indiana — 8:00 p.m. Jrue Holiday is available — 7:50 p.m. Jayson Tatum has his flaws, but Kendrick Perkins is among those spewing nonsense about Celtics’ star — 7:45 p.m. Watch: What’s making this Celtics run so special? — 7:30 p.m. With bigger Celtics ailing, Jayson Tatum wants to keep Pacers from bouncing back on glass — 7:20 p.m. Some updates from Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla — 7:05 p.m. Here’s what Rick Carlisle said about Tyrese Haliburton’s injury — 6:55 p.m. Luke Kornet is out, Jrue Holiday is questionable — 6:30 p.m.

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Here’s what to know about the Celtics’ Game 3 win over the Pacers

  • Al Horford hit seven three-pointers and Jrue Holiday made a game-defining steal to seal the win. The two veterans stepping up is a perfect example of Boston’s playoff poise. Adam Himmelsbach has more in his observations.
  • In a span of two hours, the Celtics showed why they are the prohibitive favorites to win the NBA championship … and why they are the most infuriating elite team in recent Boston memory. Gary Washburn breaks it down in his On Basketball column.
  • With Kristaps Porzingis (calf) and Luke Kornet (wrist) both out for Game 3, Jayson Tatum — who led all scorers with 36 points — had another set of responsibilities to his plate as a small-ball center. Khari Thompson has more on how the star stepped up.

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Flava Flav got a special gift from Jrue Holiday — 1:05 a.m.

The Celtics point guard handed his jersey off to rapper Flava Flav after the game.

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Jrue gave his jersey to @FlavorFlav ⏰ ☘️pic.twitter.com/jUqipL6BU5

— Cameron Tabatabaie (@CTabatabaie) May 26, 2024

Jayson Tatum’s perspective on Game 3 — 12:30 a.m.

By Katie McInerney

Jayson Tatum spoke after the game. Here are the highlights:

  • On the mentality around rallying from being down 18: “Kind of felt lucky that we were playing as bad as we were and how well they were shooting the ball and we were only down 13, 14 points on the road, and still had a lot of time left to win the game. … We believe, we believe that we can still win this game. There was a lot of time left … we knew we could play better, and if we did play better we could give ourselves a chance.”
  • On Jrue Holiday: “Can’t speak highly enough about Jrue. Ultimate teammate, competitor, obviously a champion. … He was sick, dealing with chills and stuff like that. We’ve all been there, how tough that is, to fight through it … [and] make the game winning play. Jrue is just a big-time player. A tremendous player.”
  • On the celebration at the end of the game: “That [expletive] was intense. Game 3 is always, for me, I always enjoy the most Game 3 of the series. Like, going into the opponent’s home building, you know, it’s their first home game, the crowd’s electric. They haven’t lost a home game since like March 18. So we knew it was going to be tough. We knew it was going to be a tough battle. … Being down 18, we needed every stop, every deflection, every rebound. … It’s a very emotional sport. You want to win and you let that [emotion] out when you make plays like that.”

Al Horford’s thoughts on the Game 3 win — 12:05 a.m.

By Katie McInerney

Highlights from Al Horford’s postgame media availability:

  • On coming back from down 18: “For us it was just poise, we were down obviously big. The biggest thing we understood was we needed to continue to play, continue to trust each other. I thought we had opportunities early in the fourth to take over, good looks in the third, but we just couldn’t get it done. I give this group a lot of credit for continuing to stay with it.”
  • On being the oldest person to hit 7 threes in a playoff game: “For me, it’s just I’ve been very blessed to still be in this position, to be able to play at this type of level, to be a part of a team like the Celtics and really making sure that I’m doing everything I can to contribute to the team. I’m grateful for the opportunity. It is pretty unique, it is pretty special. That’s why I understand it, I give the glory to the lord because it’s very special.”
  • On Jrue Holiday’s game-saving plays in the end: “Jrue, that was unbelievable. That was an unbelievable play, a guy like that coming full speed and having the instincts to do that ... He is just, you know, he senses things, he’s just a winner and ultimately that’s just what it comes down to ... He stepped up in such a big way for us. ... He’s a winner man, I’m so fortunate to be playing next to him.”

What Joe Mazzulla said about the win — 11:55 p.m.

By Katie McInerney

Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla addressed the media after the Celtics’ win in Game 3. Here are the highlights:

  • On how they rallied from down 18: “Poise. I felt like even when it wasn’t going well for us ... we kind of just stay right there (flat-line hand gesture). Al’s kind of the anchor for that, but today, it was everybody.”
  • On Jrue Holiday’s big playmaking ability after being questionable with an illness: “I didn’t really manage him that much, I kind of trust him. [He’s] always ready to play, I knew he was going to play just because I have faith and trust him. I thought he played a really good game. That’s a trademark steal that he always gets with an inside hand, he gets that a lot with the guys going down the sideline but this time, he got it in transition.”
  • On the Pacers’ final play and shot: “I’m not saying luck, but you need stuff to go your way sometimes.”
  • On shooting twice as many threes as the Pacers: “We didn’t go into the game saying we have to double them up in the three point line, we went into the game saying we have to take the best shots as possible … take the shot that’s there. We kept in it by taking the right shot.”

Final: Celtics 114, Pacers 111 — 11:05 p.m.

The Celtics trailed by as many as 18 and hadn’t held a lead since the beginning of the second quarter, but Boston surged back in the final frame to win and take a 3-0 lead in the series. Jrue Holiday came up huge on the defensive end in the final minutes, and he hit two free throws with 1.7 on the clock to seal the win for Boston.

The Celtics went on a 15-4 run in the final minutes to seal it. — Emma Healy

Celtics 112, Pacers 111 | 38.9, 4th

The Celtics have their first lead since the second quarter — 10:57 p.m.

Jrue Holiday hit a driving layup and converted the and-one to give Boston its first lead since the start of the second quarter.

Joe Mazzulla calls a time out with 25.6 to play after Al Horford gets the rebound on a missed Andrew Nembhard shot.

It’s a one-possession game with a minute and a half left — 10:55 p.m.

Jayson Tatum hit a clutch 3-pointer to cut the Pacers’ lead to 109-106.

Pacers 99, Celtics 92 | 6:00, 4th

The Celtics are putting up a fight, but Indiana is still out front — 10:46 p.m.

Boston has had plenty of chances to make it a one-possession game, but the Celtics can’t seem to get it right. A few missed 3-pointers, plus a tough performance at the free-throw line from Jayson Tatum (he’s 7 for 11 from the stripe tonight) have kept it just out of reach for the Celtics. Tatum has 33 points, and Jaylen Brown has 20.

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The crowd in Indiana is on its feet — 10:44 p.m.

“DE-FENSE!” chants are echoing throughout Gainbridge Fieldhouse. The Pacers are up, 97-90, with 6:14 to play and Jayson Tatum heading to the line. — Katie McInerney

Sam Hauser is not having a good night — 10:42 p.m.

Sam Hauser had a wide-open look from 3 to tie it up ... and airballs.

“He’s almost unplayable,” according to Chad Finn sitting next to me. — Katie McInerney

Pacers 93, Celtics 90 | 8:29, 4th

The Celtics are clawing their way back in it — 10:37 p.m.

The Pacers call a time out after Al Horford sinks his sixth three-pointer of the game to make it 93-90. This is the closest the game has been since 8:30 in the second quarter.

As for vibes in the arena, it’s a bit quieter than it was in the second quarter. But not for lack of trying: The Pacers’ DJ is playing the hits of the late 2000ss. If you spent any time at a frat party in 2010, you’d love the arena soundtrack tonight. — Katie McInerney

The Celtics are 2 for 15 from 3 in the second half. They have had their chances. — Chad Finn

Takeaways from the third quarter — 10:30 p.m.

Alright, it’s 90-81 here at Gainbridge Fieldhouse at the end of the third quarter. Some key takeaways as we enter the final frame:

  • Every Celtic is in minus with the exception of Xavier Tillman, who is plus-8. The lightly used big man has been called upon to minimize the damage from Myles Turner and Pascal Siakam.
  • Jrue Holiday is having a quiet night. Actually, nearly silent: He’s 1-for-6 from three and has two free throws for five points in 27:24.
  • The Celtics might still be in this game because the Pacers can’t hit from three. They’re 3 for 17 for a 17.6 make percentage.

End of 3: Pacers 90, Celtics 81 — 10:26 p.m.

The Celtics have pulled back within single digits — a position they haven’t been in since early in the second quarter. But Derrick White and Jrue Holiday have both missed some key 3-pointers late in this quarter that could have cut the deficit even further. — Emma Healy

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The Pacers are throwing something at the Celtics that Boston hasn’t seen this postseason — 10:25 p.m.

If the Pacers hang on for the win, they’ll likely become the first team this postseason to beat the Celtics while shooting less than 46 percent from 3-point range. Cleveland and Miami picked up their wins by punishing Boston from beyond the arc. Indiana may be the first to show it can be done another way. — Khari Thompson

Holiday can’t find his rhythm — 10:23 p.m.

Holiday misses another 3 even though he’s wide open. He’s 1-for-5 from the arc tonight. The Pacers lead, 88-79, with 1:50 to play in the 3rd. — Katie McInerney

The Celtics have had a couple of chances to make this interesting, but Holiday missed a 3 that would have cut the lead to 7, and White missed one a minute later that would have cut it to 6. — Chad Finn

No 3-pointers? No problem for Indiana. — 10:20 p.m.

Indiana is shooting 20 percent from 3 and still crushing the Celtics because they’re getting pretty much whatever they want inside. — Khari Thompson

Pacers 84, Celtics 71 | 5:12, 3rd

Timeout, Pacers — 10:13 p.m.

The Celtics sure don’t look like they have two second-team All-Defense guards tonight. T.J. McConnell and Andrew Nembhard are a combined 16 of 24 shooting. McConnell is 7 of 8 from 2-point range. — Chad Finn

Tyrese Haliburton might be out, but he’s dressed to impress — 10:10 p.m.

In a yellow cardigan and glasses, Haliburton looks a bit like the children’s cartoon character Arthur.

Tyrese Haliburton tonight:

(photo by Darron Cummings/Associated Press) pic.twitter.com/rBLLK0NG2U

— Emma Healy (@_EmmaHealy_) May 26, 2024

Pacer 80, Celtics 66 | 7:29, 3rd

Indiana has the hot hand — 10:08 p.m.

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The Pacers are still shooting lights out, going 33 of 52 from the field (63.5%). They lead the Celtics by 14 at the first timeout of the third quarter. — Emma Healy

Adam Himmelsbach’s first-half takeaways — 10:00 p.m.

  • Tatum has had a string of quiet starts during these playoffs, so it was a welcome development for Boston when he opened Saturday’s game with a flourish. He attacked for a three-point play, rolled in a 3-pointer from the left arc, and squared up for a clean 18-footer. That was all part of the Celtics’ 6 for 6 start from the field as a team. His only real blemish of his 15-point opening quarter came at the end, when he missed a pair of free throws as well as a runner on the final possession.
  • But it was a bit of a first-quarter warning sign for the Celtics when they finished with just a 32-31 lead after going 5 for 11 from the 3-point line and holding Indiana to 0 for 3 shooting from beyond the arc.
  • The Pacers seemed more prepared for Boston’s small-ball lineups and were more active closer to the rim. There were a few clunky and forced post-ups, but Indiana had more success simply surging to the hoop and taking advantage of the lack of a rim protector.
  • In the first half Indiana held a massive 42-18 edge in points in the paint and made 25 of 36 two-pointers (69.4 percent).
  • Referee Marc Davis gave Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla some leeway when Mazzulla called timeout and angrily stomped onto the court to voice his displeasure about a no-call on a Brown shot inside late in the first quarter. Often, a referee lets a coach really vent if he knows a call was missed. And about a minute later, a pretty soft foul was called on Pacers guard Andrew Nembhard while he was guarding Jrue Holiday in the post.
  • Sam Hauser’s 3-point struggles are officially worth monitoring. The forward was 0 for 2 from beyond the arc in the first half, dropping him to just 3 for 17 over nearly eight full games since the start of the semifinals series against the Cavaliers. To put that figure in perspective, Hauser hit at least 3 pointed in 33 of the Celtics’ regular-season games.
  • Oshae Brissett was a plus/minus darling in Game 2, but his early minutes did not go as smoothly Saturday. The Celtics were outscored by nine points during his six-minute stint in which he was scoreless, with one rebound and two fouls. Mazzulla turned to third-string big man Xavier Tillman when Al Horford checked out in the second quarter. Tillman instantly coughed up a turnover that led to a Pacers basket. For the first time, missing two of the top three big men began to show.
  • The Celtics trailed by as many as 18 points in the first half before having a near-perfect end to the second quarter, a segment Mazzulla values so much. In the final minute, Brown and Horford connected on back-to-back 3-pointers before Holiday came up with a steal in the backcourt that led to a Tatum layup. Boston needed just 40 seconds for this 8-0 surge. But Nembhard stopped it from being a disaster when he hit a deep 3-pointer with three seconds left to give his team a 69-57 halftime lead.
  • The Celtics’ work on the offensive glass gave them a big lift in Game 2, when they poured in 18 second-chance points. They did not have any in the first half of Game 3.
  • How much do people here love the Indianapolis 500? At halftime a weather report for Sunday was shown on the arena’s video board, and the crowd booed lustily when it showed the storm system scheduled to move in on race day.

Checking in on the stat sheet at halftime — 9:48 p.m.

Some quick stat notes:

  • The Pacers led by as much as 18 in that quarter, but the Celtics have closed the gap to a very manageable 12.
  • Andrew Nembhard has already eclipsed his playoff career high of 20. He has 21 points on 8 of 10 shooting.
  • Nembhard is, however, the only Pacer to make a 3. The Pacers are 3-for-8 from 3. The Celtics? 10 for 24.
  • Indiana has outscored the Celtics, 42-18, in the paint.
  • The Celtics got 2 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists from their bench in the first half. — Katie McInerney and Khari Thompson

They love the Indy 500 so much here they just booed the jumbotron weather report that showed storms tomorrow lol

— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) May 26, 2024

End of 2: Pacers 69, Celtics 57 — 9:42 p.m.

The Pacers picked up the pace and led by double digits for much of the second quarter. They enter halftime up 12 thanks to double-digit efforts from Pascal Siakam, Myles Turner, Andrew Nembhard, and T.J. McConnell. — Emma Healy

At the half: Pacers 69, Celtics 57. Just as we all expected. — Katie McInerney

Andrew Nembhard with 21 at the half. Called it! (Just kidding). — Khari Thompson

The Pacers are catching fire — 9:39 p.m.

Four Pacers (Siakam, Turner, Nembhard, McConnell) are in double figures. — Katie McInerney

McConnell has 12 points, 4 boards and 5 assists in the first half and the Pacers are up double-digits. Haliburton who? — Khari Thompson

Joe Mazzulla is trying something new — 9:37 p.m.

We have a Xavier Tillman sighting, ladies and gentleman. Celtics need help down low. Mazzulla is playing Tillman, Horford, and Tatum together to get some size on the floor. Turner and Siakam have 15 apiece. — Khari Thompson

How else will they stop (checks notes) T.J. McConnell? — Katie McInerney

Pacers 55, Celtics 44 | 5:08, 2nd

Things are getting out of hand for the Celtics — 9:33 p.m.

The Pacers lead by double digits and have completely changed the tide of this game in the second quarter. They’re 9 for 12 this period and are shooting 64.7% overall. Three Pacers have at least 12 points, while Jayson Tatum (18 points) is the only Celtic in double digits. — Emma Healy

Pacers 48, Celtics 40 | 7:07, 2nd

Pacers lead by 8, Celtics call a timeout — 9:27 p.m.

With that Aaron Nesmith three to make it 46-40, the Pacers have their largest lead of this series. Andrew Nembhard extends it to 48-40, and Mazzulla calls a timeout. Pacers fans are happy about it. — Katie McInerney

Very quiet start for Jrue Holiday, who was questionable to play with an illness. He doesn’t have a field goal or an assist in 13 minutes. Celtics have been outscored 17-8 in the second quarter and 33-16 since the 5:46 mark of the first quarter. — Chad Finn

#Pacers are shooting 63.3 percent, hitting everything in the paint, especially the tough ones off the glass. IND 48, BOS 40. 7:07 left in 2Q. #Celtics

— gary washburn (@GwashburnGlobe) May 26, 2024

Derrick White whistled for a flagrant foul — 9:24 p.m.

White went up to block a shot from Myles Turner, and Turner came down and twisted his ankle on White’s foot. Officials ruled it a reckless closeout, and Turner got three free throws, plus the Pacers will keep possession. — Emma Healy

Indiana has its first lead of the day — 9:16 p.m.

The Pacers lead, 37-33 two minutes into the second quarter.

Turner is killing the Celtics down low without Horford in the game. He’s heading to the scorer’s table to check back in. Mazzulla gave Brissett a solid look with some early minutes, but Indiana seems to have adjusted to the wrinkle.

Turner has a team-high 12 points for Indiana, with Siakam not far behind at 11. They’re getting the bulk of their production from their bigs with Haliburton out. — Khari Thompson

Celtics are just 4 of 7 from the line after White splits a pair. — Chad Finn

Takeaways from the first quarter — 9:12 p.m.

That’s a wrap on the first quarter here at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Key takeaways:

  • Sam Hauser missed two open 3s in four minutes after checking in with the small-ball crew. He’s now 1 for 9 from 3 in the series. He’s either due or borderline unplayable, you decide.
  • Holiday, despite being questionable for this game, played more minutes (8:15) than any player but Tatum, who played the entire first quarter.
  • Tatum has 15 of the Celtics’ 32 points, including two 3s. But he missed both free-throw attempts in the final minute.
  • Al Horford made two of his three 3-point attempts.
  • Small-ball worked well in Game 2. So far tonight, not so much. The Pacers have whittled Boston’s lead down to 1. It’s an interesting look to keep in the back pocket, but it gave Myles Turner momentum after a cold start and Indy looks energized.

End of 1st: Celtics 32, Pacers 31 — 9:10 p.m.

The Celtics jumped out to a 9-point lead, but Indiana clawed back in it and trails by 1 at the first break. Jayson Tatum has 15 points, and Al Horford has 6.

The Pacers are racking up fouls early — 9:08 p.m.

Siakam picked up his second foul and headed to the bench to sit for a while. — Khari Thompson

Aaron Nesmith already has two fouls too. The over/under on fouls for him every game should be set at 5.5. — Chad Finn

An interesting look out on the floor — 9:03 p.m.

Mazzulla goes back to the small-ball line-up late in the first. Oshae Brissett on the floor with Tatum, Hauser, Holiday and Pritchard. Pacers went big in response, bringing Siakam and Turner back into the game. This should be interesting. — Khari Thompson

A few celebrities are in the house — 9:02 p.m.

Actor Dylan Sprouse and his wife, model Barbara Palvin, are here. Sprouse is the grand marshal of tomorrow’s Indianapolis 500 race. Brother Cole is nowhere to be seen. Flava Flav was also spotted pregame. — Katie McInerney

Flava Flav is in the house at Gainbridge FieldHouse. #Celtics #Pacers pic.twitter.com/9RvvmVnWlZ

— gary washburn (@GwashburnGlobe) May 25, 2024

Celtics 24, Pacers 19 | 4:36, 1st

Indiana is not backing down — 9:00 p.m.

The Celtics are cruising in the early going, but the Pacers are standing their ground. Boston holds a 5-point edge as with just under five minutes to play in the first, and Jayson Tatum is leading the way with 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting. — Emma Healy

Pascal Siakam, who played so well in Game 2, is keeping the Pacers in it, with 9 points in 7:24. — Chad Finn

Derrick White is built different — 8:56 p.m.

Isaiah Jackson tried to back down Derrick White in the post and it did not go well for him. What a luxury for the Celtics to have guards who can stand their ground in the post. — Khari Thompson

Celtics 18, Pacers 13 | 6:58, 1st

The Celtics are hot out of the gate — 8:48 p.m.

The Celtics made their first six shots of the game. Jayson Tatum had 8 points in the first 5:15.

At the first TV timeout, the Celtics are shooting 7 of 9 from the field (77.8 percent). Tatum and Jaylen Brown are a combined 5 of 6. — Chad Finn

No knock on Myles Turner’s game, but it’s wild to see the size advantage he has and him still settling for turnaround jumpers when Jaylen Brown is on him and getting his shot blocked by Derrick White. — Khari Thompson

Here we go! — 8:42 p.m.

The Celtics won the tip, and Jaylen Brown cashed in on the first possession in Indiana. They got a stop on the other end, and Al Horford hit a triple to take an early lead. — Emma Healy

Jayson Tatum’s slashing abilities are already on display. He drove the lane and kicked to Al Horford for a wide-open three, then he got on the board with an and-1 layup. — Khari Thompson

It’s nearly go time — 8:40 p.m.

We’re just about ready for tip here at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. If you’re back in Boston, here’s what you’re missing:

  • Big boos for the Celtics upon introduction, to no one’s surprise.
  • Every fan in the arena received a special Pacers playoff T-shirt. It’s a sellout, 18,000
  • Pat McAfee is here hyping up the crowd, doing the ceremonial “revving up” of an indy car on the baseline (yes, a real car). He just told the crowd: “This [expletive] ain’t over yet.”

Pat McAfee to the crowd here at Gainbridge Fieldhouse: “This is the greatest city in the world … this sh*t ain’t over yet”

We’re live with our updates for the @BostonGlobe. Follow along: https://t.co/XNOlW25MOC pic.twitter.com/z3kZpuVxTl

— Katie McInerney (@k8tmac) May 26, 2024

Katie McInerney

No surprises in the starting lineups — 8:15 p.m.

With Haliburton out, the Pacers’ starting five is as follows: Andrew Nembhard, Aaron Nesmith, Ben Sheppard, Pascal Siakam, and Myles Turner.

For the Celtics, it’ll be the usual: Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Derrick White, Jrue Holiday, and Al Horford.

Watch: How the Celtics can take a commanding lead in Indiana — 8:00 p.m.

The Celtics are in the driver’s seat after taking a two game lead in the Eastern Conference finals against the Pacers. Reporter Adam Himmelsbach analyzes how Boston can keep the momentum going on the road in Indiana.

How the Celtics can take a commanding lead in Indiana

Jrue Holiday is available — 7:50 p.m.

The Celtics announced that Jrue Holiday is available for Game 3. He had previously been listed as questionable with an illness.

Globe reporter Gary Washburn spotted Holiday walking back to the locker room with what appeared to be a cup of coffee or tea after finishing his shooting regimen in warmups.

Jayson Tatum has his flaws, but Kendrick Perkins is among those spewing nonsense about Celtics’ star — 7:45 p.m.

Let’s be straight about this from the opening tap.

No assessment of Jayson Tatum’s game and his approach to playing would be accurate or honest without acknowledging that he possesses some frustrating recurring flaws. These criticisms aren’t new, so feel free to nod with me in agreement.

His 3-point shooting isn’t always the deadly weapon he thinks it is. He shot 37.6 percent in the regular season, which is fine, but entering Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals Saturday night, Tatum was at 26.6 percent from long distance in this year’s playoffs. That’s after shooting 32.3 percent from 3 last postseason.

He relies on his stepback jumper too often, especially against smaller opponents, or when there is plenty of time on the shot clock and a better look to be found.

The offense is at its most efficient and aesthetically pleasing when Derrick White and Jrue Holiday are the initiators and chief decision-makers — rather than Tatum or Jaylen Brown, as exceptional as they are as offensive players.

Tatum can bring that aesthetically pleasing offense to a standstill when he “gets into his bag” and goes into his skills-and-drills, isolation-ball mode.

This is the big one to me. I mentioned offhandedly in a column earlier in this Celtics playoff run that the TD Garden crowd kind of sounds like it murmurs in unison when Tatum holds the ball too long.

Well, there’s no “kind of” anymore. It definitely happens. A faint but noticeable mini-grumble that can be translated to, “C’mon, JT, do something.”

He also doesn’t have the greatest track record in, to use baseball parlance, late-and-close situations. Of course, the Celtics, who have won 54 more games than they have lost (74-20) this season, including the playoffs, haven’t had a lot of tense, late-game circ*mstances in which to practice coming through in the clutch.

So there. That’s the list.

Those are the valid — and relatively small in scope — criticisms of Jayson Tatum. As it is, I probably gave them too much real estate.

Now can we puh-leeze talk about how much absolute nonsense Tatum — a three-time first-team All-NBA selection who works his tail off on defense and rebounding, and carries himself with a perpetually even-keeled grace — has had to put up with lately, particularly from the national media?

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Watch: What’s making this Celtics run so special? — 7:30 p.m.

Is Jrue Holiday the secret sauce? Does Jayson Tatum deserve criticism? Can Kristaps Porzingis elevate them? Reporter Adam Himmelsbach weighs in.

What’s making this Celtics run so special?

With bigger Celtics ailing, Jayson Tatum wants to keep Pacers from bouncing back on glass — 7:20 p.m.

By Khari Thompson

Jayson Tatum has been a workhorse for the Celtics this postseason, leading the team in minutes (40), points (25.2), rebounds (10.2), and assists (5.6) per game.

With Kristaps Porzingis (calf) out and Luke Kornet (wrist) doubtful for Game 3, Tatum was set to add another set of responsibilities to his plate as a small-ball center on certain possessions when Al Horford was going to be on the bench.

Tatum said playing the five is an adjustment, but he also noted that the Celtics have been preparing for scenarios like this one.

“At this point in the season, it’s whatever you’ve got to do to help the team win,” Tatum said. “It doesn’t feel unnatural, but it is something different that we’ve worked on and talked about throughout the season in practices and things like that. So, it’s not like a shock or anything like that.”

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Some updates from Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla — 7:05 p.m.

By Katie McInerney

Joe Mazzulla spoke to the media before Saturday’s Game 3. Here are the highlights:

  • He has “no idea” how much time Luke Kornet might miss. Same for Kristaps Porzingis’s return. Porzingis has been out since Game 5 of the Miami series with a calf strain.
  • Will Jrue Holiday be able to go despite his illness? Mazzulla said the team will know after the final shootaround.
  • The Pacers will be without Tyrese Haliburton, their top player. How will the Celtics adjust? “Everyone has this expectation it’s supposed to go a certain way because the other team is missing their best player,” Mazzulla said. “You’re getting one of the best versions of Indiana tonight.” He said they’ll be “managing the expectations that it’s going to go a certain way.”

Here’s what Rick Carlisle said about Tyrese Haliburton’s injury — 6:55 p.m.

By Katie McInerney

Rick Carlisle said in his pregame media session that the decision to sit Tyrese Haliburton for tonight’s Game 3 was taken out of his hands.

Haliburton left Game 2 on Thursday in the third quarter with hamstring soreness. He did not return as the Celtics beat the Pacers, 126-110, to go up 2-0 in this series.

Carlisle said the Pacers made the call. Haliburton wants to play, Carlisle said, and that he is feeling better. The Pacers head coach said they’ll see how Haliburton feels on Monday.

Haliburton has averaged 18.7 points, 8.2 assists, and 4.8 rebounds this postseason.

Luke Kornet is out, Jrue Holiday is questionable — 6:30 p.m.

With two hours until game time, the Celtics announced that center Luke Kornet, who was previously listed as doubtful with a left wrist sprain, is out for Game 3.

Jrue Holiday (illness) remains questionable.

Kornet left Thursday night’s Game 2 against the Pacers late in the first quarter. The injury appeared to happen on an errant pass to Jayson Tatum, which landed out of bounds.

Indiana’s Pascal Siakam made contact with Kornet’s arm while guarding him at the top of the key.

Kornet had a pair of rebounds and but had not attempted a shot when he was taken out at the 2:07 mark in the first.

Emma can be reached at emma.healy@globe.com or on X @_EmmaHealy_. Katie McInerney can be reached at katie.mcinerney@globe.com. Follow her @k8tmac. Khari Thompson can be reached at khari.thompson@globe.com. Chad Finn can be reached at chad.finn@globe.com. Follow him @GlobeChadFinn. Adam Himmelsbach can be reached at adam.himmelsbach@globe.com. Follow him @adamhimmelsbach.

Celtics claw back from 18-point deficit, beat Pacers in Game 3 to take commanding series lead - The Boston Globe (2024)
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