INDIANAPOLIS — It’s still not clear whether the Celtics have fully ‘flipped the switch’ to Playoff mode but the Celts did what they needed to do on Sunday in Indianapolis. They dispatched an overmatched Pacers team, completing the sweep with a 110-106 win.
It’s the first four-game sweep for the Celtics since 2011 and their second since 1986-87.
The Celtics overcame poor shooting performances from Kyrie Irving and Al Horford (combined 8-for-32) thanks in large part to their bench.
And the leader of the bench mob was none other than Indiana homeboy Gordon Hayward. Hayward was lights out scoring 20 points on 7-9 shooting including 3-for-3 from behind the arc.
“It was a scrappy series, defensive series, physical series,” Hayward said. “I feel good. Anytime you 4-0 a team, you feel good.
“It’s been a long process to get back to where he probably feels as good as he does now, we knew that going in,” Brad Stevens said of Hayward’s season long progression. “We said all year, 20, 40, 60, 80, every 20 games he’s going to be a little bit better, and he was big at the end of the game tonight for sure.”
Hayward’s bench buds Marcus Morris and Terry Rozier also came up big with Morris pouring in 18 while Rozier chipped in with 11.
“He was really good today,” Brad Stevens said of Rozier after the game. “I’m really happy for him. I don’t think he ever eclipsed 22 minutes or 23 minutes in the series ever but every minute he played felt impactful and we all know what he can do when he’s given more opportunity. For him to just stay the course all year and be ready for this time of year to make a big difference, kudos to him.”
Jayson Tatum also had 18 points and eight rebounds while Jaylen Brown added 13 points.
The Celtics will face the winner of the Milwaukee Bucks-Detroit Pistons series in the next round. The top-seeded Bucks lead that series 3-0, with Game 4 scheduled for Monday night in Detroit.