Celtics Wrap: Boston Defeats Pacers 117-97 In Potential Playoff Preview

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After sweeping a home-and-home against the Miami Heat on Monday and Wednesday, the Celtics were able to blow past the Indiana Pacers to the tune of a 117-97 victory Friday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Boston now owns sole possession of the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference with two games remaining in the regular season.

Jayson Tatum had a game-high 22 points to lead the Celtics. Gordon Hayward (21 points), Kyrie Irving (17), Marcus Morris (11), Al Horford (11) and Aron Baynes (11) all scored in double figures.

Myles Turner led the Pacers with 15 points.

With the win, the Celtics jump to 48-32, while the Pacers drop to 47-33.

Here’s how it all went down.

STARTING FIVE
PG:  Kyrie Irving
SG: Marcus Smart
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Al Horford
C: Aron Baynes

STRONG START, WEAK FINISH
Both teams got off to a hot start over the first few minutes, but the opening frame quickly turned into a gritty, physical matchup with lots of interior play. The Celtics was beat up on the glass towards the end of the quarter which ultimately hurt them on both sides of the ball in the early going.

The Celtics shot 50 percent for the quarter but trailed by three heading into the second thanks to forcing zero turnovers.

Baynes took home the highlight of the first 12 minutes with his slam over Turner.

Irving led all scorers after one with 11 points.

AGGRESSIVE C’s
Hayward was very aggressive on the offensive end in the second, which always bodes well for the Celtics’ offense. He had eight points in the first four minutes of the quarter, acting as the primary scorer with Irving on the bench.

The Celtics locked up on the defensive side of the ball as well, preventing the Pacers from any shot creation. They allowed just 20 points on 36.4 percent shooting during the second quarter while outscoring Indiana 25-15 over the last nine minutes of the half.

Irving was a wizard as usual, creating shots like this out of nothing.

Irving had 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting heading into the break.

SMOTHERING DEFENSE TURNS TO OFFENSE
Boston’s defense did not let up after halftime, as it kept the pressure on Indiana right out of the gate.

The Celtics prevented the Pacers from finding any rhythm and turned their stops into easy points at the other end, but it was Hayward’s continued aggressive and patient play that led the charge. He had 18 points on 8-of-8 shooting after three.

Boston outscored Indiana 67-47 in the second and third quarters to take a 91-74 into the fourth.

THE FINAL TOUCHES
Back-to-back Tatum dunks led a Celtics’ run that ultimately put this one away early in the fourth quarter, giving Boston a 102-80 lead.

With every blowout comes the rare Guerschon Yabusele-Robert Williams led lineup, and tonight it included a Time Lord alley-oop.

PLAY OF THE GAME
Tatum throws it down with authority.

NEXT UP
The Celtics welcome the Orlando Magic to TD Garden on Sunday. Tip-off is set 7:30 p.m. ET.

Thumbnail photo via Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports Images

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