Celtics sweep Pacers, advance to NBA Finals

Written by: William Petersen

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The Boston Celtics put the brooms to use in Indianapolis Monday night after rallying three separate times in the second half to outlast the Pacers 105-102 in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The Celtics starting five had another strong showing after four out of five starters scored in double digits, with stars Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum combining for 56 points. Jaylen Brown won his first Larry Bird Eastern Conference Finals MVP award after averaging 29.8 points per game on 52% shooting, and hit this again last night finishing with 29 points and 6 rebounds on 50% shooting from the field and from beyond the arc. The depth of the Celtics roster proved to be the x factor in this series after Boston found themselves down in the second half in the majority of this series. With their win last night, Boston is now making their second finals appearance in three years and awaits the winner of the Timberwolves Mavericks series that could be wrapped up tonight if Dallas wins Game 4.

Boston continues to look like a team of destiny after finishing the regular season with the best record as well as the best home record, and their depth in their roster has been the biggest reason why this has all come to fruition. While Brown and Tatum combined for 56 points, Jrue Holiday and Derrick White contributed in the scoring column but also impacted the game in other ways. Derrick White has come into his own as a solid two way guard, finishing with 16 points, 5 steals, and 3 blocks. White was able to lock up nearly any matchup he had in front of him which allowed Boston to be aggressive on defense and push the pace in transition after forcing turnovers. The Celtics seemed to have found their stride at the perfect time, winning every series so far in five games or less this postseason. Whoever Boston plays in the NBA Finals, they will hold home court advantage which illuminates Boston in an even more overwhelming light. The Celtics get a shot at redemption after losing to the Golden State Warriors in six games in 2022 and have the chance to hang their 18th banner in franchise history, their first championship since 2008. Given that the Mavericks do not become the first team to blow a 3-0 series lead in the playoffs, it will be interesting to see how Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic react to the Celtics stingy guard play. If the Celtics can limit the production of these two stars, I have a hard time believing this series will not go more than five games.

The Indiana Pacers deserve nothing less than the utmost respect after making a postseason run that nearly no one saw coming. It is unfortunate that this Cinderella run ended mainly due to the absence of star point guard Tyrese Haliburton injuring his hamstring in Game 2, but Indiana showed that they are just getting started after giving Boston close contests in every game. Haliburton’s injury forced other players like Pascal Siakam and Andrew Nembhard to step up, Siakam finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds while Nembhard continued his offensive outbreak with 24 points and 10 assists. Although other members of this roster stepped up, their overall lack of playoff experience caught up to them as the Pacers could not close out one game against the Celtics this entire series. If you watched any of these four games you would know what I am talking about after the Celtics came back from down at least two possessions or more for three games in a row and only winning by single digits. The Pacers will take this postseason as nothing but a positive, in the results department but also in playing in big moments and games and learning what it takes to come out on the ride side of these situations. I would not be surprised to see the Pacers back in the playoffs next year and should be even more poised to make another deep run as their roster will come back with some tools to help build their confidence as a whole. Keep your eye on Andrew Nembhard as he is looking like he is ready to take the next step in his career and I would not be surprised to see him get All-Star votes next year if he continues this offensive production and efficiency.