BOSTON — The Boston Celtics needed a hero Wednesday night.
And, of course, they got one in Kyrie Irving.
The point guard dropped 37 points as Boston erased a 12-point fourth quarter deficit to earn a 99-91 win over the Indiana Pacers at TD Garden in Game 2 of their first-round NBA Playoff series.
In addition to Irving, Jayson Tatum (26 points) and Gordon Hayward (13) also scored in double-figures.
Bojan Bogdanovic had 23 points and was one of four Pacers to post double-digit scoring.
The Celtics now lead the series 2-0.
Here’s how it all went down.
PG: Kyrie Irving
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Al Horford
C: Aron Baynes
The opening 12 minutes of Game 2 were the polar opposite of Game 1. Stagnant offense was a trend throughout the series opener, but both sides came out firing Wednesday, with the Pacers finishing the quarter ahead 33-29.
After the Celtics took control in the early-going, the Pacers thundered back with a 13-0 run to go ahead by seven with 6:31 left in the quarter. Indiana got its lead up to as many as eight before the frame was over. Though the Celtics drew level late in the frame, Indy scored six of the quarter’s last eight points.
Bogdanovic led all players with 10 points in the first.
Albeit narrowly, the Celtics finished the half ahead. They outscored the Pacers 23-17 to go into the break up 52-50.
Boston spent all quarter trying to chip away at the Pacers’ lead, and with just a couple minutes remaining, the Celtics finally pulled even.
A Tatum jumper tied things at 46 with 1:39 left, followed by the C’s taking their first lead since the early first quarter on a Tatum dunk with 43 seconds left. With the game tied in the waning seconds of the quarter, an Irving floater with 1.5 seconds left gave the Celtics the lead heading into the break.
Irving led all players with 18 first-half points.
In Game 1, the Celtics used a strong third quarter to give them the advantage they needed to earn the victory. In Game 2, they turned in a simply dreadful effort, and it led to them getting outscored 29-16 in the frame, resulting in 79-68 score heading into the fourth.
Already ahead by two, the Pacers used a 10-0 run over 2:39 to go up by 12 just before the midway point. That stretch featured some disturbingly poor ball control and defensive effort by the Celtics.
That spurt gave Indy quite a bit of momentum, allowing it to keep Boston at an arm’s reach the rest of the quarter.
Irving’s had a game-high 10 third-quarter points.
The Celtics quickly erased the deficit, outscoring the Pacers 31-12 in the fourth to earn the win.
Following a lifeless third, the Celtics started to turn things around in the fourth. They kicked off the first 3:27 on a 10-3 run, trimming the deficit to four before Pacers head coach Nate McMillan called timeout.
Irving was subbed in soon after the timeout and started going scorched earth, ultimately capping the C’s comeback by draining a triple with 5:25 left to put the hosts up 84-82.
Trailing by two with under a minute left in regulation, the Celtics took control once and for all.
Tatum knocked down a baseline trey with 50 seconds left to put the C’s ahead 92-91. Boston responded in the defensive end by forcing Wesley Matthews to take a bad 3-pointer, which he missed. After getting the rebound, the Celtics killed some clock and found Hayward under the basket for an easy two.
With 12 seconds left in the game, Matthews fired an awful inbound attempt that didn’t find anyone (other than the Celtics bench). That gave the Celtics the ball back, and resulted in Tatum getting an and-one upon getting fouled on a dunk. The second-year swingman knocked down his free throw to put Boston up 97-91 with 8.8 seconds, putting the game out of reach.
PLAY OF THE GAME
The Celtics and Pacers will meet for Game 3 of the series Friday. Tip from Bankers Life Fieldhouse is set for 8:30 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images