Jrue Holiday’s late-game surge propels the Boston Celtics to a 114-111 victory over the Indiana Pacers, securing a commanding 3-0 lead in the EC finals

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Jaylen Brown drives past forward Pascal Siakam

Jrue Holiday wasn’t feeling well all day. He even missed the team’s morning practice. But when it counted the most, the Celtics guard performed admirably.

Holiday made a crucial three-point play with 38.9 seconds left, putting Boston ahead for the first time in nearly 36 minutes. He followed that up with a game-saving steal and then sealed the 114-111 victory against Indiana with two free throws on Saturday night, giving the Celtics a commanding 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.

Despite trailing by 18 points in the second half, the Celtics rallied and can secure their second NBA Finals appearance in three years with another win on Monday in Indiana.

“I’m all right, had a fever, and slept a lot. But I feel OK,” Holiday said. “I just made a play (at the end). He’s a great player, had a great game. I just made a play.”

Holiday ended the game with 14 points, five of which came in the final 39 seconds, and grabbed nine rebounds, despite appearing under the weather at times. However, he seemed back to his usual self after the game, even well enough to hold his children on his lap.

AI Horford and Jure Holiday celebrates after the game

While Holiday struggled, other Celtics players stepped up. Jayson Tatum matched his playoff career high with 36 points and also contributed 10 rebounds and eight assists. Jaylen Brown added 24 points, and 37-year-old Al Horford scored 23 points, shooting 7-of-12 on 3-pointers.

But it was Holiday’s late-game heroics that quieted the Indiana crowd and maintained Boston’s perfect 5-0 road record in this season’s playoffs.

“I’m glad we got him, Jrue’s a hell of a competitor,” Tatum said. “Obviously, he’s won a championship. For him to come out here and put it all on the line for us and come up with a big play to win the game, we’ve got a hell of a team.”

The Pacers were already facing a tough challenge in this series, especially after learning that All-NBA guard Tyrese Haliburton wouldn’t be playing in Game 3 due to a left hamstring injury. It’s uncertain if he’ll be ready for Game 4.

However, the Pacers didn’t give up.

Rick Carlisle reacts in the game

Andrew Nembhard led the Pacers with a career-high 32 points before Holiday stole the ball from him with 3.3 seconds left. T.J. McConnell had 23 points, nine rebounds, and six assists, while Myles Turner and Pascal Siakam each contributed 22 points. Turner also grabbed 10 rebounds.

Despite playing well and scoring 69 points in the first half, the Pacers couldn’t maintain their lead against the NBA’s top team. Even with an 18-point advantage with three minutes to go, they missed having Haliburton on the court.

Coach Rick Carlisle praised the team’s effort, calling it courageous. He said, “We came up a little short tonight, but we will be back Monday and we will be punching even harder.”

The sellout crowd, mostly dressed in gold checkered flag shirts featuring Indiana’s state outline, energized the Pacers, as they had in previous playoff home games, all of which were victories.

Holiday’s late-game surge — including a crucial layup, the go-ahead free throw, a pivotal defensive play, and two sealing free throws with 1.1 seconds remaining — silenced the crowd on a tumultuous night.

Derrick White blocks the shot

Indiana built an 18-point lead in the middle of the second quarter and matched it again in the third. The second time, Boston capitalized on Indiana’s turnovers to spark a 13-4 run, narrowing the gap to 90-81 by the end of the third quarter.

The Celtics then started the fourth quarter with a 9-3 run, bringing the score to 93-90 after Horford’s 3-pointer with 8:29 remaining.

Indiana responded by extending their lead to 107-99 with 3:05 left, but Boston rallied with a 13-2 run led by Holiday.

“We’ve faced every challenge,” Tatum said. “We’re in a great position now, just one win away from the finals. But we can’t overlook Monday’s game or anything like that. We have a special opportunity to return to the finals.”


By Ritik

Ritik Katiyar is pursuing a post-graduate degree in Pharmaceutics. Currently, he lives in Srinagar, Uttarakhand, India. You can find him writing about all sorts of listicle topics. A pharmaceutical postgrad by day, and a content writer by night. You can write to him at [email protected]

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