INDIANAPOLIS, IN – MAY 25: Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics celebrates during the game against the Indiana Pacers during Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2024 NBA Playoffs on May 25, 2024 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2024 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

Jrue Holiday overcame an illness to convert the go-ahead three-point play with 38 seconds left, then make the game-saving steal to help the Boston Celtics rally from an 18-point deficit to beat the Indiana Pacers 114-111 on Saturday night for a 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.

Boston can clinch its second NBA Finals trip in three seasons with a Game 4 win Monday in Indianapolis.

Jayson Tatum matched his playoff career high with 36 points and had 10 rebounds and eight assists. Jaylen Brown added 24 points and Al Horford had 23 points and seven 3-pointers as the Celtics won their sixth straight playoff game and stayed unbeaten on the road this postseason.

Holiday played despite being listed as questionable with an illness unrelated to COVID-19.

Andrew Nembhard led the Pacers with a career-high 30 points before Holiday stole the ball from him with 3.3 seconds remaining. T.J. McConnell finished with 23 points, nine rebounds and six assists, while Myles Turner and Pascal Siakam each had 22 points.

Indiana played without All-NBA guard Tyrese Haliburton, who sat out with a left hamstring injury, and certainly missed him as Boston closed the game on a 13-2 run. It’s the first loss in seven postseason home games for the Pacers.

Over time, the Celtics leaned into Holiday’s post game, having him attack any small with that lefty hook shot or a turnaround jumper. His offensive package boiled down to 3s and post-ups for the most part. He was willing to take a back seat so his teammates could flourish, with a few tried and true ways to get himself involved.

If there is one thing Horford has learned over his season with Holiday, it’s not to put limits on what to expect of him. Holiday does a little bit of everything. And as the playoffs have gone on, Holiday’s scoring has gone from an afterthought to central to the team’s success.

The one thing he rarely does, in the biggest moments, is take it upon himself to attack the basket. And he certainly doesn’t break from the plan on that side of the ball too often.

But with 40 seconds left in Game 3 and the Celtics down two, he went for it. It was early in the shot clock and they likely wanted to run down more time to maintain the 2-for-1 possession advantage to close the game.

As Holiday attacked downhill, Jaylen Brown started flaring out to the corner for a potential 3. It didn’t matter. The 6-foot-4 Holiday saw Pascal Siakam under the rim, ripe for a lefty hook. He lowered the shoulder, and buried Siakam under the rim while he buried the lefty hook to complete Boston’s 18-point comeback.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *