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All eyes may be on March Madness, but the Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers had quite the thriller on Friday, capped off by Kyrie Irving’s game-winning layup that gave the Celtics a pivotal advantage in playoff positioning as the season winds down.
With a 114-112 win, the Celtics are now tied with the Pacers for fourth in the Eastern Conference and take the lead in the season series, with the final matchup between the two teams coming next week.
Irving shed the defender with a stutter-step move and then kissed it off the glass to give the Celtics the lead with 0.5 seconds remaining.
The game was tied at 112-112 because the Pacers’ Thad Young finished a difficult reverse alley-oop layup after a crazy sequence in which the ball bounced around with bodies flying everywhere.
But with 41 seconds to play, Young blew a wide-open layup that would have given the Pacers the lead. And then it was Uncle Drew time.
Big win for Boston
This is a big win for the Celtics, who have gone through well-documented struggles this season despite hefty expectations. They had dropped four straight before winning their last two thanks to Irving’s heroics.
The Pacers, meanwhile, are the polar opposite, exceeding expectations and still managing to hang around the top of the Eastern Conference despite losing their best player, Victor Oladipo, for the season.
Both teams currently hold a 45-31 record with 15 days left in the regular season. The April 5 meeting between the Celtics and Pacers in Indianapolis may hold pivotal weight, not just for home-court advantage in the first round, but it could also serve as a prelude to a potential playoff series.
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