NBA playoffs 2019: Celtics sweep Pacers to advance to conference semifinals

The fourth-seeded Celtics needed just four games against the No. 5 Pacers to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals as Boston topped Indiana 110-106 on Sunday.

The Pacers, however, weren’t going to go down without a fight. Indiana kept the game close throughout the entire matchup and even led by two at the half. Boston stars Kyrie Irving and Al Horford didn’t have a strong first half as they struggled to shoot, but they were determined to change the course of the game in the second. 

The Pacers held the lead until the final seconds of the third quarter before the Celtics managed to pull ahead by one when Marcus Morris made a pair of free throws to make it 73-72 entering the fourth. 

From there, it was a back-and-forth battle as the Celtics pulled together to deliver a better offense. It wasn’t until the final six minutes that the Celtics really broke away when they went up, 87-83. With less than four minutes left, the Celtics took a 10-point lead after Boston got a steal, allowing Jayson Tatum to dunk for a 95-85 lead. 

Irving finished the game with just 14 points, shooting 4 of 13, while Horford also scored 14 and made just 4 of 19. Boston ultimately was able to overcome Irving and Horford’s shooting woes, thanks in large part to its bench that scored 49 points. Morris stepped up in a big way to deliver 18 points with eight rebounds and Gordon Hayward also had a strong outing, adding a team-high 20 points. 

After earning their first playoff sweep since 2011, the Celtics will have some time off before the next round of the playoffs. They will likely face the Bucks, who are leading their opening series against the Pistons 3-0, in the conference semifinals. Milwaukee will face Detroit on Monday in Game 4 with the chance to sweep the series.