It wouldn’t be surprising if fans shut that game off once the Boston Celtics started trailing by 14 points just five minutes in. So allow us to fill you in on what happened after that point to lead them to a 118-112 win over the Indiana Pacers.
Kemba Walker looked as much like his old self as ever as the team didn’t need to rely so much on Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown with great contributions from the bench. They moved the ball fairly well and got to the free throw line. In times of adversity they showed grit. And defense helped give them the edge while neck-and-neck with the Pacers.
Walker had a game-high 32 points with six assists, three rebounds and a steal.
Daniel Theis had 17 points and four rebounds, Brown had 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Tatum had nine points, nine rebounds and four assists. Jeff Teague, in perhaps is best game as a Celtic, had 14 points.
Robert Williams had a 14-point, 11-rebound double-double night with four assists.
Domantas Sabonis (24 points, nine assists, six rebounds), Myles Turner (17 points, 10 rebounds), and Justin Holiday (19 points) and Aaron Holiday (15 points) provided for a balanced offense, but the Pacers fall to 15-16.
With the win, the Celtics improved to 16-17. Now, we see if this winning stays consistent.
Here’s how it all went down:
Walker ran the point with Brown and Tatum out on the wing. In Marcus Smart’s continued absence, coach Brad Stevens went with the double-big man lineup filled out with Theis and Tristan Thompson.
KEMBA LEADS A COMEBACK
We blinked, and Indiana hit all five of its 3-point attempts to get off to a 18-4 run led by Turner during the first five minutes of play. He had a game-high 13 points in the first.
The Celtics called a time out after that horrible opening stretch, and Walked helped them make up some ground immediately at the line and from deep to cut the lead to 20-16.
Walker took complete control of the offense, finishing the quarter with 10 points, and going a perfect 2-for-2 from the perimeter. He also drew a number of fouls, recorded a rebound and steal, and facilitated well with two assists.
For all the criticism the Celtics have received about their ball movement of late, Boston really started to piece things together after that crucial timeout.
Tatum had a quiet quarter, but a deep two back-to-back with a floater from Teague on the next offensive possession gave Boston the lead at the half.
It trailed by as many as 14 points early, but were up 32-21 after one.
BENCH BUILDING MOMENTUM
Indiana stayed neck-and-neck with Boston, but between Robert Williams, Teague and Payton Pritchard, the bench offered some solid energy and contributions with a combined 27 points in the first half.
Williams had eight of those points with three blocks, eight rebounds and two assists as he won out minutes from the two starting centers with his play. Pritchard hustled through the entirety of his team-high 18 minutes. Teague’s 10 points followed up Walker’s game-high 18 points at the half.
Tatum had a quiet half, but perhaps provided the most highlight-worthy moment of the game. Like, is he kidding us with his pass?
Boston extended its lead to as many as six points at one point in the second, but didn’t shoot well from deep going 4-for-13 in the first two frames. Thanks to a heady play in the paint from Brown at the end of the quarter, the Celtics led 61-60 at the break.
ROLLERCOASTER OF RUNS
Boston finally managed some separation by getting out to a 10-point lead in the opening minutes of the half. Not that it lasted long, because it’s the Pacers.
Stevens called a timeout just inside the four-minute mark after Justin Holiday hit a 3-pointer to make it a two point game. But they came out of that regrouping with stingy defense that propelled them to more small runs.
Walker continued to lead the offense, but Tatum got in on the scoring a bit to add onto his three assists and five rebounds.
Boston showed grit and managed to close out the quarter 92-84.
C’s CLOSE IT OUT
Another lead disappeared almost instantly at the start of the fourth, but Walker was clutch in keeping the momentum on their side.
After Indiana came within three points, the Celtics went off on one final run to make the final push. Brown stepped out of bounds on offense in a two possession game, but Sabonis missed a 3 and the Pacers didn’t capitalize.
Theis did, though, and hit a triple on the other end to essentially win the game.
The homestand at TD Garden continues for two more games. The Celtics will host on the Washington Wizards on Sunday, tipping off at 7:00 p.m. ET.
Tuesday, March 2 they take on the Los Angeles Clippers at 7:30 p.m. ET.