(Indianapolis, IN) – The Indiana Pacers (11-8 | 7-5) receive an MVP like performance from Tyrese Haliburton to advance to the NBA In-Season Tournament Semifinals with a 122-112 win over the Boston Celtics (15-5 | 6-5).
Entering tonight’s game, the Indiana Pacers ranked first in points per game and the Boston Celtics entered eighth. The theme of the first quarter would be defense because the Pacers held the Celtics to 24 points, and they held Indiana to 22 points. The Pacers were ahead 17-12 in the first 5:51 but struggled the final 6:09. Jaylen Brown opened the game with 10 points to lead all scoring in the first quarter. Indiana was led by Myles Turner with eight points and Bruce Brown with seven points. An area of concern after twelve minutes was the glass because the Celtics brought in 20 rebounds, while the Pacers corralled ten.
The second quarter picked up a little bit from an offensive standpoint. However, the rebounding was still an issue for the Pacers. Boston in the second quarter had three offensive rebounds that turned into six points. Indiana was -15 in terms of rebounding margin after 24 minutes of play. After a back and forth first quarter, the Pacers held the lead for the majority of the second quarter until it was tied 43-43. Boston would go on a 12-3 run to go ahead 55-46 with less thana minute remaining. Brown would make a pair of free throws to make it a halftime 55-48 halftime deficit for Indiana. Jayson Tatum got going in the quarter with nine points, but it took him nine shots to get those points. Derrick White chipped in with nine points as well for Boston. It was a balanced attack for Indiana with four different players scoring five points. Tatum and Brown led all scorers with 12 points. Indiana’s leading scorer was Brown with nine.
Many times, this season, Tyrese Haliburton has had phenomenal third quarters. Tonight, would be no different. Entering tonight’s game, he had six games with 10+ points in the third quarter and we leave Gainbridge Fieldhouse with seven. Not only did he score 12 points, but he dished five assists and hauled in four rebounds. It would take some time for the Pacers to get out of their seven points hole, but with 5:30 to go in the third, Brown would convert the free throw after being fouled by White as he made a layup to tie the game at 71. In total, Indiana went on a 20-5 run to go from four down, to eleven up. It was just a barrage of scoring from Bennedict Mathurin, T.J. McConnell, and Buddy Hield while Haliburton got some rest. After 36 minutes, the Pacers led the Celtics 85-78. Haliburton led Indiana with 19 points, 10 rebounds, and 7 assists. Brown had 20 points and Tatum had 19 points for Boston.
After outscoring the Celtics 37-23 in the third quarter, the Pacers outscored them 37-34 in the final quarter of play. Haliburton was a critical piece in the third quarter, but it was his best friend, Buddy Hield, and Aaron Nesmith coming up huge for Indiana. Each of those two scored 11 points, but Nesmith’s defense was even more important. He was in charge of making it difficult for Tatum and Brown. Myles Turner, Brown, Haliburton, and Nesmith played the final quarter from start to finish. After going down 11, Boston would not quit. They slowly crawled back into the game until there were able to tie the game back up at 94. The two teams would tie it up five more times after that. With 2:21 to go, the Pacers delivered one final haymaker that put them up for good. Haliburton hit a three and was fouled by Brown, Tatum missed a three, Buddy knocked down a three off an inbound pass from Haliburton, and Nesmith had a breakaway dunk following a Turner steal. Just like that, Indiana was ahead 114-105. Everything else after that was academic as the Pacers would top the Celtics 121-112 to advance to the NBA In-Season Tournament Semifinals Thursday afternoon.
TOP PERFORMERS: Tyrese Halburton (26p, 13a, 10r), Buddy Hield (21p), Myles Turner (17p, 10r), Bennedict Mathurin (16p, 5r), Aaron Nesmith (14p), Bruce Brown (13p, 8r, 4a, 3s), and Obi Toppin (12p). For Boston, Jayson Tatum (32p, 12r, 6a), Jaylon Brown (30p, 9r), Derrick White (18p, 8a, 4r), and Sam Hauser (15p, 5 threes). For tonight’s full box score, click here.
NOTES: The Pacers won the first in-season tournament game, were the first team to clinch a spot in the knockoff round, and the first team to clinch a spot in Las Vegas for the semifinals. Tyrese Haliburton recorded his first triple-double of his career, and his ninth game with 25+ points and 10+ assists. Haliburton made Pacers history by becoming the first player to have 25+ points, 10+ assists, 5+ threes, and ZERO turnovers.
NEXT UP: Indiana will take on the winner of the Knicks/Bucks game tomorrow night on Thursday afternoon at 5pm eastern. The Kroger Pregame Show with Pat Boylan will start at 4:30pm eastern on 93.5/107.5 The Fan.
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