Celtics Bounced from NBA In-Season Tournament: What Went Wrong?

Boston set to play Friday at home, where it will face loser of Tuesday's quarterfinal between Bucks and Knicks
Boston had no answer for Pacers star guard Tyrese Haliburton, who recorded his first career triple-double on Monday.
Boston had no answer for Pacers star guard Tyrese Haliburton, who recorded his first career triple-double on Monday. / Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

If the Boston Celtics want to come away with a title this season, they'll have to wait until June.

Boston's NBA in-season tournament run was cut short on Monday night, as the Celtics fell 122-112 to the Indiana Pacers in the single-elimination quarterfinals.

With the loss, Boston missed out on a trip to Las Vegas for Thursday's East semifinal. The championship game -- which will also be played in Las Vegas -- is on Saturday. Each player on the winning team will receive $500,000.

Jayson Tatum had 32 points, 12 rebounds and six assists against Indiana. Jaylen Brown supplied 30 points and nine boards and Derrick White finished with 18 points, but the Celtics were unable to overcome a number of shortcomings on both sides of the ball.

Here's what led to a premature flight back to Boston:

1. Tyrese Haliburton Took Over

Well, so much for having one of the best defensive backcourts in the NBA.

Haliburton had his way with White and Jrue Holiday, collecting 26 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists for his first career triple-double. He made 10 of 18 shots, including 5 of 11 from beyond the arc.

Such a performance from Haliburton wasn't unexpected by any means, but the Celtics gave him way too much space to operate, evident by the fact that the 23-year-old didn't commit a single turnover.

2. Jayson Tatum Got Involved Too Late

Things slipped away from Boston in the third quarter, when it was outscored 37-23 after taking a seven-point lead into the break.

A lot went wrong in the period, as the Celtics shot just 40.9 percent from the field, had six giveaways and let the Pacers drain six 3-pointers. But what really stood out was how rarely the offense flowed through Tatum, who attempted just four shots in the frame before sitting out for the final 4:44.

Tatum left, and Indiana immediately put together a 12-3 run to open up an 11-point advantage.

By the time Tatum took command in the fourth (13 points on 5-of-9 shooting), it was too late. Yes, Tatum needs time to catch his breath, but with the track record this team has in third quarters, maybe, just maybe, he should be taking more than four shots.

3. Jrue Holiday Failed as a No. 3 Option

On nights where Boston is fully healthy, Holiday becomes more of a supplemental offensive piece, but that isn't necessarily the case without Kristaps Porzingis on the floor.

Porzingis missed his fourth straight game on Monday due to a left calf strain. He's currently the Celtics' third-leading scorer at 18.9 points per game, and with him sidelined, the responsibility to support Tatum and Brown falls on White and Holiday.

White did his part with eight assists to go along with his 18 points, but Holiday was quiet, netting just nine points on 3-of-9 shooting. Holiday is averaging 9.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists over his past six games, going 20-for-54 (37 percent) from the floor during that span.

While a tournament win would have been fun, Celtics fans will be happy to turn their attention back to the regular season and eventually a postseason run.

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