Celtics rally to reach NBA finals as Pacers blow late lead once again

Derrick White’s tiebreaking three-pointer with 43 seconds left gave Boston the lead and the Celtics closed out a four-game sweep of the Indiana Pacers 105-102 on Monday night to reach the NBA finals for the second time in three years.

White finished with 16 points. Jaylen Brown led Boston with 29 points while Jayson Tatum added 26 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists to help erase a nine-point second-half deficit.

“They fought us hard to the wire, they have pride as a team. They didn’t want to give up,” Tatum said after the game. “We missed bunnies all night. I knew we were due for one. That was a big time shot.”

The Celtics will play the winner of the Dallas-Minnesota Series. The Mavericks are up 3-0 and have a chance to win the series on Tuesday night.

Indiana, who again played without two-time All-Star Tyrese Haliburton, lost their second straight at home – both in the final minute after giving up leads. Andrew Nembhard had 24 points, 10 assists and six rebounds but missed a potentially tying three-pointer in the closing seconds and the Pacers never got the ball again.

Pascal Siakam added 19 points and 10 rebounds for Indiana while TJ McConnell had 15 points and Aaron Nesmith had 14.

Pacers coach Rick Carlisle promised his team would fight to extend their season – and, as usual, the young roster competed hard. Tempers flared briefly in the third when Pacers center Myles Turner knocked White to the ground, Brown grabbed Turner’s shoulder and Turner shoved Brown away.

“Our guys embraced it,” Carlisle said of his team’s effort. “Give them credit for the stuff they pulled off at the end of the last two games. They simply made more plays.”

Turner was called for an offensive foul and he and Brown each drew technical fouls. But that fray didn’t change the back-and-forth tenor of the game – or the series.

Indiana lost three times despite holding leads or being tied in the final minute, and it happened again on Monday as Boston rallied late.

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“That game is the toughest. It’s the most fun, too,” Tatum said, referring to the elimination scenario.

The Celtics pulled within 102-100 on Tatum’s dunk with 3:12 to go, tied the score with 2:40 left on Brown’s mid-range jumper and then took the lead on White’s three.

In between, Boston forced two turnovers and Brown blocked Nembhard’s short at the rim with 1:05 left. Indiana had one more chance when Tatum missed a three with eight seconds left, but Jrue Holiday chased down the rebound and ran out the clock before Indiana could foul.


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