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Celtics outlast Pacers 129-124 after dropping 81 points in first half

The Boston Celtics squeaked past the visiting Indiana Pacers 129-124 Tuesday at TD Garden, securing a victory on a night where the Pacers hung tough until the final horn. Newly minted All-Star Jayson Tatum led the way for Boston with 30 points, 7 assists, and 7 rebounds, helping his club move to 37-11 on the season.

Boston looked electric to open the game. The Celtics scored 81 points in the first two quarters alone tonight, marking the highest scoring first half for Boston since 1982. The Pacers refused to lie down, however. Indiana combined speed with tenacity in mounting a comeback effort that nearly succeeded.

This was the fifth and final meeting of the regular season between the Celtics and Pacers, with Boston going 3-2 in those games. And while these two clubs could end up meeting again in the playoffs, for now, let’s take a look at Boston’s 129-124 win over Indiana.

Boston offense

Jayson Tatum was at the center of Boston’s offensive approach, turning in another excellent scoring effort. He shot a tidy 12-for-19 from the field and 4-for-9 on 3-pointers. Boston also got nice contributions from Jaylen Brown, who had 25 points and 6 rebounds. Derrick White played well, too, logging 24 points and 5 assists.

The offense slowed considerably in the second half, in large part because of how much effort Boston was exerting on the defensive end. Down the stretch, though, the Celtics settled down just enough to wrestle back control of the game and close the door on the Pacers.

Boston's defense

Indiana is one of the fastest teams in the NBA, a big challenge for a Celtics team playing on the second night of a back-to-back set. By playing with pace and hustle, Indiana refused to go quietly, and baited Boston into playing faster than they needed to.

This was especially true in the third quarter, during which the Pacers outscored the Celtics 37-25. For the game, Indiana grabbed 19 offensive rebounds to go with 31 second-chance points, underscoring a determined effort from the visiting team.

Jrue Holiday joined Derrick White in coming up with some big stops for the Celtics. Thanks to some strong individual playmaking on this side of the ball, Boston avoided what would have been an ugly loss.

Looking ahead

Tyrese Haliburton, who is set to join Jayson Tatum as a starter in this year’s All-Star game in a few weeks, was on a minutes restriction tonight as he recovers from injury. Haliburton logged 13 points and 10 assists in 25 minutes of action, but missed the entire fourth quarter.

The All-Star reserves will be announced Thursday night this week, meaning we will soon know if any other Celtics players are also headed to Indianapolis for the game. Brown, White, and Kristaps Porzingis are all in the mix at the time of this writing.

Thursday night will also see the rival Los Angeles Lakers come to town before the Celtics host Marcus Smart and the Memphis Grizzlies this Sunday.

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Story originally appeared on Celtics Wire