Irving, Tatum fuel Celtics comeback over Pacers
MANILA, Philippines – Kyrie irving dropped 37 points and Jayson Tatum came through the clutch as the Boston Celtics rallied past the Indiana Pacers, 99-91, to take a 2-0 lead in the NBA Eastern Conference first-round playoffs series on Wednesday, April 17 (Thursday, April 18, Manila time).
Irving, who likewise starred in the Celtics’ Game 1 win, powered Boston from 11 points down, 68-79, heading into the 4th quarter. He also had 7 assists, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks and a steal.
Tatum fired 26 points and figured in every crucial play in the closing seconds, including a clutch triple that swung the lead to the Celtics, 92-91, with 50 seconds left and a key dish to an open Gordon Hayward underneath that padded their edge, 94-91, with 12.1 ticks remaining.
“We made some big top plays on the defensive end,” said Irving. “We stayed aggressive and poised down the stretch.”
The Pacers had a chance to tie or trim the deficit in the next play but made a crucial turnover as Wesley Matthews’ inbound pass went out of bounds.
A Tatum three-point play and two Hayward free throws wrapped it up for the Celtics.
Hayward added 13 points for the Celtics, who are headed to Indiana for Game 3 on Friday.
“It’s just the playoffs, so going to the 4th we just had to tighten up, ramp up the pressure on defense. We did and knocked down some shots,” said Tatum.
Bojan Bogdanovic led Indiana with 23 points, the last baskets on two straight triples that gave the Pacers their final taste of the lead, 91-89. The Croatian also had 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 4 steals.
Thaddeus Young added 15 points while Darren Collison and Tyreke Evans scored 13 each for the Pacers.
“We got to finish, do a better job finishing games in situations like that,” said Pacers coach Nate McMillan.