Boston pulls off emphatic comeback win over Indiana, now lead 3-0

Boston operates in the clutch to stun Indiana (ca.sports.yahoo.com)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

And that’s why, you can never blink and relax when you’re going up against the well-oiled Boston Celtics squad in a playoff series.

Down by 18 points on the road in front of a hostile crowd at the Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, the Celtics did the unthinkable and completed a massive 18-point come-from-behind victory over the Indiana Pacers, 114-111, to build a comfortable 3-0 Eastern Conference Finals lead on May 26, 2024.

With the win, Boston just moved a win away from a second NBA Finals berth in three years while also handing the Pacers their first home-court loss in the ongoing playoffs.

After playing catch-up for the most of the game, the Celtics finally regained their footing in the fourth quarter and successfully stole the momentum when they trimmed their 18-point deficit to just a single digit.

With only 2:26 remaining in the game, the Pacers were poised to steal Game 3 after leading the ball game by eight points, 109-101.

Just when Indiana thought they could just run the clock out and dribble away several possessions, Boston’s resiliency and cold-blooded DNA were evident in the most crucial stretch of the final frame as they battled back in a stunning way, scoring in a jiffy to keep things interesting in the nip-and-tuck Game 3 showdown.

Jaylen Brown kicked off Boston’s comeback attempt after draining a fadeaway jumper in the perimeter that pulled them within six points, 109-103.

After another successful defensive stop, the Celtics pushed the pace in hunt for more points which they did as Jayson Tatum nailed a huge three-pointer to cut Indiana’s cushion to just three points, 109-106.

The Pacers received a sigh of relief after Andrew Nembhard got fouled on a shot attempt and converted all of his free throws that increased their lead back to five points, 111-106, at the 1:26 mark of the fourth.

However, the Boston offensive rampage didn’t end there, as veteran big man Al Horford knocked down a trey haymaker that turned the chess match into a single possession game, 111-109, with only 1:12 remaining.

In the final 1:12 of the game, Jrue Holiday then stepped up for the Celtics after making the three biggest plays down the stretch that steered Boston to the Game 3 win.

First, he converted a foul-counted layup against the bigger Pascal Siakam with only 40 seconds left that officially gave the Celtics a 112-111 lead.

After his offensive heroics, Holiday did what he is best at, defending the opposition’s big-time scorer.

As Indiana raced down the other end after a completed defensive stop, Holiday swiped the biggest steal of the game over Nembhard who attempted to drive down the lane in the left elbow.

With 1.4 seconds left in the clock, Holiday then iced the game after hitting all of his shots in the charity stripe that gave Boston a much-needed three-point lead.

Indiana had the chance to tie the game and force overtime but Aaron Nesmith’s three-point attempt from the right corner failed to kiss the net.

Tatum top-scored the Boston fightback with 36 big points built from an efficient 12/23 shooting from the field including five three-pointers to go alongside 10 rebounds, eight assists, and two blocks.

Meanwhile, Holiday, the biggest man of the hour, flirted with an all-around performance of 14 points, nine rebounds, three dimes, three steals, and a block.

Horford also stepped up when the Celtics needed him the most, tallying 23 markers derived from seven threes including five rebounds and three blocks.

Indiana will look to stay alive in the series and snatch Game 4 on May 28, 2024, to be played in their home court at 8 AM (Philippine time).

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