The visiting Indiana Pacers lost their previous five games prior to their visit to Boston, but you’d hardly know that based on how they played on Friday night. It would take a valiant effort to put away the scrappy Pacers, which the Celtics managed to put together in a 128-123 victory.
The Celtics had the Garden crowd thinking it would be a blowout after the first few minutes. Boston got out to an 11-2 run to begin the game, capitalizing off mistakes from the young Pacers squad.
The roles were quickly reversed after a timeout, however. Four straight Boston turnovers led to a 9-0 Pacers run that evened up the score in the first. Tyrese Haliburton and Jaylen Brown began trading buckets, but Boston did just enough to escape the first with a nine-point lead.
Boston played well and shot a decent clip from the field, but found themselves unable to put Indiana away for a majority of the contest. Just when the Celtics put together a solid run, Indiana would respond with one of their own. Though the lead never escaped Boston, the Celtics were unable to scrounge together a lead larger than ten points through the third quarter.
With a five-point margin entering the fourth, Boston again failed to create any meaningful separation from Indiana. Though they found some reprieve when Haliburton fouled out, Indiana still kept it close. In the end, however, Brown and Tatum did just enough to secure the win with some tough buckets late.
STUDS AND DUDS
Jaylen Brown: Brown started off hot and never looked back. After making six of his first eight shots for 14 points in the first quarter, he added seven in the second quarter to total 21 by the half. He’d finish with a game-high 32 points on a highly efficient 12-18 shooting, throwing in seven assists for good measure.
hit em with the step pic.twitter.com/3Ptuf8vRKX
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) April 2, 2022
Tyrese Haliburton: Haliburton continues to impress since being traded to Indiana. The promising young guard missed only one shot in the first half, going eight for nine and leading all scorers at the half with 22. He would finish with 30 points on 10-11 shooting (including a perfect 6-6 from three) despite fouling out early in the fourth quarter, carrying the Pacers on offense.
Jayson Tatum: A slow start from the field wasn’t enough to slow down Tatum’s MVP campaign on Friday. Tatum turned it on late to finish with a strong 31 points on 10-24 shooting, to go along with six assists and rebounds each.
OH MY GOODNESS JAYSON TATUM pic.twitter.com/gp4jkUKfRC
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) April 2, 2022
Buddy Hield: A rough night shooting for the normally reliable sharpshooter. Hield finished with only six points on 2-10 shooting, and though he notched seven assists, they came in addition to five turnovers.
The Celtics were very fortunate Tyrese Haliburton only played as much as he did. The Pacers star was plagued by foul trouble all night. He exited the game after his 5th foul in the 4rd quarter and the Pacers down 84-77. He came back in with 8:27 left in the 4th and Indiana trailing 103-101. Fourteen seconds he fouled out after getting tangled up with Jaylen Brown.
Neither Haliburton, nor Pacers coach Rick Carlisle could believe the call.
“There was contact, but it seemed like a call that could’ve gone either way or just been a no-call,” Carlisle said. “And in that situation, I think everybody in the building would rather have seen a no-call because even if you’re a Celtics fan, you’d love to see Tyrese Haliburton playing in the fourth quarter. The way he was playing, it was beautiful basketball.”
The rest of the Pacers more then held their own in Haliburton’s absence, keeping it close the rest of the way. But, you have to wonder if the results would have been different if the Pacers guard was able to remain in the game longer.
SO THAT HAPPENED…
The opportunity for an April Fools prank wasn’t missed by Ime Udoka and Grant Williams. The two staged a fake fight during Friday’s pregame shootaround, jawing at each other and fooling both players and staff. Udoka laughed and said that no one readily broke up the fight because of a few players who “wanted to see Grant get his ass kicked.”
THAT’S WHAT HE SAID
Though the end result was ultimately positive, Coach Udoka acknowledged the team’s lack of effort in communicating on defense. “We need to get back to our physicality, our communication has been poor the last few games and we need to get back to defending at a higher level going into the playoffs.”
SWEAT THE BET
Boston failed to cover Betonline.ag’s -15 point spread. The over of 226 did hit, however.
CLEANING THE GLASS
- It was the tenth straight game that the Celtics led after the first quarter.
- Jaylen Brown notched his 19th straight game with double-digits in the first quarter.
- Brown’s 32 points marked his eighth straight game with 25+ points.
- All five Celtics starters reached double-digits.