Celtics' 18-Point Comeback in Game 3 Pushes Pacers to the Brink

Jayson Tatum, Jrue Holiday, and Al Horford made game-winning plays down the stretch in Game 3
Boston Celtics v Indiana Pacers - Game Three
Boston Celtics v Indiana Pacers - Game Three / Stacy Revere/GettyImages

The Boston Celtics wiped out an 18-point deficit in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, beating the Indiana Pacers 114-111 to grab a commanding 3-0 lead in their best-of-seve series.

In a game where the shorthanded Pacers, playing without All-Star Tyrese Haliburton, shot a whopping 63.3% in the first half, Andrew Nembhard scored 21 of his team-high 32 points. Indiana’s offensive attack devastated Boston in the paint, where the bulk of its scoring pulverized the Celtics, who allowed 69 first-half points, including 42 points in the paint, before buckling down defensively in the third quarter.

The Celtics trimmed their deficit to nine before going on a 9-3 run to start the fourth quarter, and by the 1:41 mark, the deficit was down to three when Jayson Tatum connected on a 3-pointer. Then, he found an open Al Horford in the corner for another, and when Jrue Holiday converted a 3-point play with 38.2 seconds left in the game, the Celtics led the Pacers 112-111 and never looked back.

With a chance to complete a game-winning play in transition, Nembhard had the ball stripped away by Holiday, who was intentionally fouled before making a pair of free throws that eventually put the Pacers away for good. Aaron Nesmith’s 3-point attempt, which would have sent the game into overtime, bounced off the rim in the final second.

Tatum scored a game-high 36 points while flirting with a triple-double with his ten rebounds and eight assists. Jaylen Brown scored 24 points, and Horford finished with 23 points, including 7-of-12 from behind the 3-point arc. The Celtics can sweep the Pacers in Game 4 on Monday to punch their ticket to the 2024 NBA Finals.

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