Kyrie Irving had a hand in 11 of Boston's final 16 points Friday night as the Celtics withstood a late charge by the Indiana Pacers to record a 104-96 win at Indianapolis and go up 3-0 in an Eastern Conference first-round playoff matchup.
Boston gets a chance to close out Indiana in the best-of-seven on the road on Sunday afternoon.
Boston led 80-73 entering the fourth period, but the Pacers, playing at home for the first time in the series, chipped away, getting within 88-87 with 6:05 to play when Wesley Matthews made three free throws.
That's when Irving took over.
He had two hoops, assisted on 3- and 2-point baskets by Al Horford and made two free throws down the stretch, helping the Celtics pull away.
Even Irving's only missed shot in the final six minutes turned into a positive, as Gordon Hayward tipped it in to increase the Boston lead to 100-92 with 1:34 to play.
Jaylen Brown had 23 points to lead the Celtics, who held the Pacers under 100 points for the third consecutive game.
Irving finished with 19 points and 10 assists while Jayson Tatum added 18 points, Horford 16 and Marcus Morris 11 for the Celtics.
Tyreke Evans led seven Pacers in double figures with 19 points off the bench.
Bojan Bogdanovic had 15 points, Myles Turner 13, Domantas Sabonis 12, Thaddeus Young and Matthews 11 apiece, and Darren Collison 10 for Indiana. The Pacers were outshot 46.9 percent to 42 percent overall by the Celtics and were outscored 45-33 on 3-pointers.
Young was the game's leading rebounder with nine.
The Celtics led most of the way, using a 37-22 game-opening run to take command early.
The Pacers rallied into a lead in the second quarter, and they were up 64-59 in the first minute of the third period before going into one of their shooting slumps that have plagued them in the series.
This time, they went 5:38 without scoring, allowing the Celtics to take a 67-64 lead.
A 3-pointer by Tatum in the final minute of the third period increased the Boston advantage to 80-73, giving the Pacers an uphill climb to make in the fourth quarter.
--Field Level Media
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