Friday, May 24, 2024

Celtics 126, Pacers 110: Jaylen Brown ties career playoff-high with 40 points in Game 2 [BOS leads series, 2-0]

The Celtics finally won a Game 2 this postseason beating the Indiana Pacers 126-110 Thursday night at TD Garden to take a 2-0 best-of-7 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals.

After hitting a clutch 3-pointer to send Game 1 into overtime Tuesday and arguably getting snubbed from an All-NBA selection Wednesday, Jaylen Brown went off for 40 points to match a career playoff-high on 14-of-27 from the field, including 4-of-10 from deep.
"I think he cares about it in a way that motivates him, and I think he doesn't really care about it at all," Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said of Brown. "He understands that winning is the most important thing. He just cares about the right stuff."
Jayson Tatum (six rebounds, five assists) and Derrick White (six assists) each netted 23 points respectively, while Jrue Holiday added 15 points (4-of-5 from behind the arc) and 10 assists for the C's, who have improved to 6-2 at home during the playoffs.

Pascal Siakam led Indiana with 28 points and Andrew Nembrand chipped in 16 points, five assists. Tyler Haliburton finished with 10 points and eight assists before leaving in the third quarter with the team called a sore left hamstring -- the same injury that kept him out of the lineup for 10 games earlier this year -- and did not return.
"We need Ty, but 'next man' mentality," Siakam said in his postgame comments. "We've got to play together. This team got where we we're at by playing together. It's on us to continue."
There were 10 different lead changes in the opening quarter, but the Pacers took a 27-22 advantage into the second. Boston went on a 20-0 run and would never trailed the rest of the way, as Brown scored 10 of his points in that span -- while the visiting team missed nine straight field goal attempts and committed four turnovers in a six minute scoring drought.

Despite the C's looking like they would run away with this one for good, the Pacers climbed back and were only behind 57-52 at the break and they cut their deficit to two to start the third period. The Celtics responded with a 16-5 spurt, as they wouldn't relinquish their double-digit margin for the remainder of the game.

Brown, who dropped 26 points in the team's 133-128 overtime victory in Game 1, had 24 in this one by halftime -- improving his average to 24.8 points per contest (career-best) on 54.4% shooting (also a career-high) and 36.5% from behind the 3-point arc so far in the playoffs.
"I mean, he has it going," Holiday said in his postgame presser of Brown's play as of late. "Y'all see what I see. Great player. Great leader. But wants to win. And takes thinks into his own hands. So I'm glad to have him on my side. I ride with him. The way JB's been playing, man, it's outstanding."
With Haliburton's injury status still up in the air, the Celtics will look to take a commanding 3-0 lead when the series shifts to Indianapolis -- where the Pacers have yet to lose this postseason. Game 3 is set to tip-off Saturday at 8:30 pm ET on ABC

Game Notes:

Boston hit 53.4% from the field, including 15-of-37 (40.5%) from 3-point territory while the Pacers were 52.4% from the floor and 11-of-29 (37.9%) from long range. The Celtics won the rebound battle 40-37 and the points in the paint war 54-34. The C's also dished out 28 assists (12 turnovers) on 47 baskets to Indiana's 23 dimes (16 turnovers) on 44 made shots.

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of Getty Images

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