Celtics complete the sweep against the Pacers and return to the NBA Finals

The Boston team qualifies for its second NBA Finals in the last three years.

(AFP/VOZ MEDIA) The Boston Celtics defeated the Indiana Pacers 105-102 this Monday, completing a 4-0 sweep that sees them qualify for their second NBA Finals in the last three years.

Boston, as a representative of the Eastern Conference, will fight for the ring against the winner of the Western Finals, in which the Dallas Mavericks lead 3-0 against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Jaylen Brown (29 points) and Jayson Tatum (26) commanded the final victory in Indianapolis with another comeback in the final minutes against a Pacers burdened by the loss of their leader, Tyrese Haliburton.

"We had to win in any way. It was very hard, they didn't want to give up but we found a way," Tatum stressed.

Tatum and Brown, elected the best player of the tie, now face their second Finals as leaders of the Celtics after the 2022 loss against the Golden State Warriors.

"We have a great team and now we want to take it to the next level," said Brown, who led the Celtics in the second half with 19 points.

The Pacers, the great revelation of the playoffs, resisted elimination until the end in front of their home crowd thanks to Andrew Nembhard (24 points and 10 assists) and Pascal Siakam (19 points and 10 rebounds).

The locals entered the last six minutes with a 90-98 lead but, as in other games in the series, they ended up succumbing to the pressure of the final moments against the experienced Celtics.

Point guard Jrue Holiday (17 points), champion in 2021 with the Bucks, and Dominican center Al Horford (7 points and 8 rebounds), who was playing in his sixth conference finals at the age of 37, were key players in the final stretch on both sides of the court.

"They didn't want the series to last any longer. You have to give them credit," Indiana coach Rick Carlisle acknowledged.

"No one likes to lose four games in a row, but there was not a single resignation from my players," said the coach in recognition of a team that this season was also a finalist in the first Cup tournament and that started these playoffs as sixth seed in the East.

The Pacers' chances, who were playing in their first conference final in a decade, were diminished by the hamstring injury suffered in the second game by Haliburton, their young All-Star point guard.

Tribute to Walton

After being the best team in the regular phase, Boston will start as the favorite to win its first title since 2008 in the Finals that start on June 6, for which it hopes to recover the injured Kristaps Porzingis, who has been out since the first round.

If they win, the Celtics will secure their 18th title, breaking their current tie with the Los Angeles Lakers as the most successful franchise in NBA history.

Before the start of the game, the Gainbridge Fieldhouse audience held a minute of silence for the death this Monday of Bill Walton, one of the best centers in history, who won his second championship ring in 1986 with the Celtics.

Boston started the duel by exploiting its dominance in outside shooting, converting four triples in a row that gave them a dominant lead on the scoreboard.

For Indiana, the entry from the bench of TJ McConnell worked again to diversify their attack, the best of the season in the NBA:

The point guard scored a basket at the first quarter buzzer and Nembhard another just before halftime to bring Indiana within one point (58-57).

Two triples by center Myles Turner after returning from the locker room gave the Pacers a 57-63 lead in a game that was growing in intensity.

Turner himself and Jaylen Brown each received technicals for pushing each other midway through the third quarter.

Amid the home jitters, the Celtics gradually made up ground and the game was tied at the last minute, when Brown placed a block on Nembhard and Derrick White nailed the winning triple with 45 seconds remaining.