BOSTON — To put it simply, the Indiana Pacers were undressed by the Boston Celtics in the final 12 minutes of Tuesday’s game.
The Pacers entered the fourth quarter leading by 11 points, and got their advantage to as many as 12 during the early stages of the frame. But the Celtics responded by steamrolling Indy for much of the quarter, outscoring them 31-12 in the frame to earn a 99-91 victory at TD Garden in Game 2 of their first-round NBA Playoff series.
With the win, the C’s now lead the series 2-0, though they’re not getting complacent with that advantage.
Any number of reasons could be attributed to the success in the fourth. Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum hit big shots, while Al Horford was important in the paint. Even the defensive energy Terry Rozier brought played a big role in the triumph.
After the game, Pacers forward Thaddeus Young was asked what the Celtics did in the fourth that caught the Indy off guard.
His answer was pretty simple.
“They put the ball in Kyrie’s hands,” Young said with a slight smile before expounding. “As you can see, he had 37 (points) tonight. When they put the ball in that guy’s hands, he makes things happen. He made some tough shots and I think that was the ending factor for us. He was making shots and they were playing defense and we weren’t able to make shots.”
The Pacers played a pretty solid game overall, but Irving taking over in the fourth was just too much for them to handle — and understandably so. It seems highly likely figuring out how to keep the ball out of Irving’s hands will be a point of emphasis for the Pacers over the next couple days as they look to avoid falling behind 3-0.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images