Celtics-Pacers Overreactions: C's near-collapse overshadows win

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The Boston Celtics ended their two-game losing skid Tuesday, beating the Indiana Pacers, 114-111.

Jayson Tatum led the way with a game-high 30 points. He was the difference-maker down the stretch as the C's narrowly avoided another fourth-quarter collapse.

Here are a few instant overreactions from Boston's victory, which brings them to 43-21 on the season:

1. The Celtics nearly collapsing again in the fourth overshadows their win.

Verdict: Not an overreaction

Boston clinched a playoff spot with their victory, but their near-collapse in the fourth quarter was the real story.

The Celtics held a 16-point lead and were dangerously close to blowing it, with the Pacers storming back to briefly pull ahead. This brought flashbacks of their recent collapses vs. the Brooklyn Nets and Oklahoma City Thunder.

This time, they were able to just barely finish things off. But that doesn't make their near-disaster any less concerning. The Celtics simply have to be better in the fourth quarter from this point forward, or their bad habits will come back to haunt them come playoff time.

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2. Kemba's slump is a serious concern.

Verdict: Overreaction

Kemba Walker has struggled mightily since returning from his knee injury. Those struggles continued Tuesday night as he contributed 11 points, but went a lackluster 3-for-12 shooting from the field and 2-for-8 from beyond the arc.

There's no need to panic. Walker will return to form sooner rather than later as he re-adjusts to a C's lineup in which Tatum is the clear-cut No. 1 option.

He may not always light up the box score, but Walker lifts up his teammates whenever he's on the court. That's been his best asset since replacing Kyrie Irving at the point guard position, and it'll continue to be going forward.

3. Gordon Hayward is the key to C's success.

Verdict: Not an overreaction

If the Celtics make a deep postseason run, it'll be because Gordon Hayward puts together a string of performances like what we saw on Tuesday night.

Hayward was the Boston's second-best player behind Tatum, tallying 27 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists. He shot 10-for-19 from the field, showing what he's capable of accomplishing when he plays assertively.

Jaylen Brown's forthcoming return to the lineup means Hayward may have to take a step back some nights. But overall, he's the Celtics' X factor. They'll need him to be a consistent scorer when the lights shine the brightest, especially with the lack of bench scoring (10 points) continuing to be a concern.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Bucks-Celtics, which begins Thursday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, followed by tip-off at 8 p.m. You can also stream on the MyTeams App.

Celtics-Pacers Overreactions: C's near-collapse overshadows win originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston