Celtics-Pacers takeaways: Motivated Jaylen puts on a show in Game 2 win

BOSTON — The Boston Celtics put an end to their Game 2 struggles Thursday night at TD Garden.

After dropping the second game of the previous two rounds, the C’s treated their home crowd to a relatively stress-free win this time in the Eastern Conference Finals. They shook off to a sluggish start, shooting just 41.7 percent from the floor compared to Indiana’s 57.9 percent in the first quarter. The first 12 minutes included 10 lead changes and despite their lackluster offense, the Celtics found themselves down only two points at the end of the frame.

It was all C’s from there. The second quarter featured a 20-0 Boston run in which Indiana didn’t make a shot until the six-minute mark. The Pacers cut the deficit to six at halftime, but they wouldn’t regain the lead the rest of the way as the Celtics cruised to a 126-110 triumph.

Jaylen Brown led the way for Boston with a 40-point outburst. Jayson Tatum added 23 points, and All-Defensive guards Derrick White and Jrue Holiday did their part offensively with 23 and 15, respectively.

Pascal Siakam was the lone bright spot for Indiana with 28 points on 13-of-17 shooting. Pacers star Tyrese Haliburton (10 points) exited the game in the third quarter with a leg issue and did not return.

Since 1984, Boston is 22-1 in seven-game series after winning the first two games. Teams that win the first two games of a best-of-seven series have gone on to win the series 92 percent of the time.

The series will shift to Indiana for Game 3 on Saturday with tip-off scheduled for 8:30 p.m. ET. Coverage starts at 7:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Boston with Celtics Pregame Live.

Before we look ahead to that matchup, here are three takeaways from Game 2.


Boston Celtics

Joe Mazzulla reacts to Jaylen Brown's All-NBA snub

Ford Quote of Note

EXCLUSIVE: White praises Jaylen Brown's 40-point night in Game 2

Boston Celtics

Haliburton exits Celtics-Pacers Game 2 with left hamstring injury

Jaylen Brown responds to All-NBA snub

Brown was a glaring omission from the All-NBA teams that were announced on Wednesday. Rather than voice his frustration with the snub, he let his play do the talking in Game 2.

The three-time All-Star, who drilled the game-tying 3-pointer to force overtime in Game 1, started Thursday’s game with another 3 that got the Garden crowd juiced. He went on to drop 24 points in the first half, including 17 in the second quarter.

It was the third-highest-scoring half of Brown’s playoff career.

Brown picked up where he left off to start the second half, scoring the Celtics’ first four points of the third quarter. The 27-year-old added 16 more points in the half to finish with 40, his highest-scoring game since March 7 vs. Denver (41).

Brown reached the 40-point mark on 14-of-27 shooting (4-10 3-PT). He added five rebounds, two assists, and a steal with only one turnover in 37 minutes.

All-NBA likely isn’t top of mind for Brown with a Finals berth at stake, but his scoring outburst coming one day after his snub doesn’t seem like a coincidence. There’s little doubt he entered Game 2 with extra motivation, and the Celtics benefitted as a result.

Oshae Brissett brings the energy

After Luke Kornet exited with a left wrist sprain at the end of the first quarter, C’s coach Joe Mazzulla gave Oshae Brissett a chance to make an impact.

Brissett’s presence was felt shortly after he entered the game in the second quarter. The ex-Pacer’s energy helped fuel a 20-0 Celtics run, a complete turnaround following the team’s uninspiring start.

His first points of the series came on a Brown assist in the third quarter.

With Kornet out for the game, Brissett notched three steals in 12 minutes and finished as a +18, tied with Brown for the game-high. His two points and three rebounds don’t jump off the page, but those numbers don’t tell the full story. He was a difference-maker, and regardless of Kornet’s injury status, he earned the opportunity for more minutes in Game 3 and beyond.

Another star C’s opponent goes down

In the first round, it was Jimmy Butler. In the conference semifinals, it was Donovan Mitchell.

In the conference finals, it might be Tyrese Haliburton.

The Pacers star left Game 2 in the third quarter due to leg soreness and did not return. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski later added context, reporting it as a left hamstring injury — the same hamstring he injured earlier in the season. According to Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix, Haliburton also was dealing with a chest issue.

Suffice it to say, the Celtics will catch another major break if Haliburton is forced to miss any time. The two-time All-Star, who earned the first All-NBA nod of his career on Wednesday, is the engine of the Pacers’ high-octane offense. Without him, Indiana will likely suffer the same fate as Miami and Cleveland.

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