Boston is one victory away from the final after once again dominating Indiana

A second final in three seasons looms for the Celtics, who took a serious option by winning 114-111 against the Pacers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final. Boston was carried by Jayson Tatum close to the triple-double (36 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists) to lead 3-0. Without its star Tyrese Haliburton, absent due to injury, Indiana let a precious match slip away in the last minute of the match.

And yet, the Pacers have long believed they could take down Boston. Transcended by the challenge, sophomore Andrew Nembhard was a solid replacement at position 1 (32 points and 9 assists at 12/21 shooting). As in Game 7 of the previous round against the Knicks, Rick Carlisle’s men were skillful at the start of the match (15/22 shooting in the 2nd quarter). In the wake of Nembhard, the Pascal Siakam-Myles Turner duo found their rhythm (22 points each) to thwart the Boston defense, and the Pacers were up to 18 points ahead.

However, the Celtics found their address to come back in the last quarter. A winning shot from Al Horford (23 points at 7/12 from distance) allowed the C’s to come back to -3 at 8’30” from the end before TJ McConnell responded in the corner on the other side from the field 3 minutes from time to give his team some breathing room (107-99). The veteran leader of the Pacers, author of 23 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists, delivered one of his best matches of the play-offs. But victory will slip through the fingers of this young Pacers team, the fault of an omnipresent Jayson Tatum who will be one of the architects of this comeback with Jrue Holiday.

40 seconds from the buzzer, the leader (14 points, 9 rebounds and 3 steals) obtained a basket with the foul to give the Celtics the first advantage since the start of the 2nd quarter (112-111). Then, 10 seconds from the end, Holiday made his experience speak by stealing the ball from Nembhard’s hands before converting his two free throws to secure the victory.

This third defeat in as many matches did a lot of harm to the Pacers, with their backs against the wall before hosting the Celtics again on Tuesday for match 4. Hope is slim for Indiana who will be able to take inspiration from Boston, author of a fantastic comeback last season at the same stage of the competition against the Heat – going from 0-3 to 3-3 – before losing in game 7. As a reminder, no team has managed to win a series after being led 3-0 in the NBA play-offs.


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