Andrew Nembhard
(Matt Kryger)

Game Rewind: Pacers 102, Celtics 105 (Game 4)

Monday, May 27 at 8:00 PM ET at Gainbridge Fieldhouse

Game Recap: Celtics 105, Pacers 102

Game Rewind

The magical 2023-24 Pacers postseason run came to an end on Memorial Day, but the Blue & Gold didn’t go down without a fight. 

In a contest featuring 15 lead changes and eight ties, the Boston Celtics outlasted the Pacers 105-102 in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Monday night at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. The top-seeded Celtics (4-0) have completed the Eastern Conference Finals sweep and advance to the NBA Finals to face the winner of the Dallas Mavericks (3-0) and Minnesota Timberwolves.

Like in earlier games in the series, the Celtics came up clutch in the final moments to steal the win. Tied at 102 with 45 seconds left in the game, after Boston trailed for most of the second half, Celtics guard Derrick White drilled a 3-pointer in the corner for what would prove the game-winner.

Boston led 58-57 at halftime before the Pacers went back in front 83-80 by the end of the third quarter. In the final frame, the Pacers went up by eight points early before the Celtics battled back to tie the game with 2:40 left, and White hit the go-ahead bucket.

Andrew Nembhard, again starting at point guard with Tyrese Haliburton out due to a hamstring injury, led the Pacers with 24 points and 10 assists, while Pascal Siakam scored 19 points and pulled down 10 rebounds, and T.J. McConnell added 15 points off the bench. Aaron Nesmith (14 points) and Obi Topin (12 points) also scored double figures. 

Jaylen Brown led the Celtics with 29 points, Jayson Tatum had 26 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists, Jrue Holiday logged 17 points and nine boards, and White finished with 16 points for the visitors.

“An amazing season, a magical season,” Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle said. “The level of fight was just tremendous all the way through this. Circumstance never phased them one way or another, they were in this to win every possession that they could in any game that they could. A lot of respect to our players and just how they conducted themselves in this series. There were a lot of things accomplished this year, and certainly expectations will be raised for next year which is good.” 

The Pacers outshot the Celtics 46 to 44.9 percent in Game 4 and also won the rebounding margin 47-44.

Neither team established much separation in the first half, as the squads traded the lead 13 times and tied five times. The Celtics stayed in front 58-57 despite the Pacers hitting buzzer beaters to conclude each of the first two periods.

Nembhard had 16 points (7-for-11 shooting) and five assists at the break and Siakam had 13 points (5-for-8 shooting) and five rebounds for the Pacers. Tatum led all scorers at the break with 16 points.

While the Celtics hit a handful of shots from deep to start, Indiana’s bench put up 16 points in the first quarter to narrow their early deficit to 29-27. McConnell scored eight points, and Obi Toppin had five off the bench in the opening frame for the Blue & Gold to keep it close.

Boston drained four of their first six attempts from 3-point range following the tip, with Holiday making two, as the Celtics constructed an 11-2 run to lead 14-8 four minutes into the game. 

After making some early substitutions, McConnell came in and scored a trio of baskets from close range and Doug McDermott got one to go from deep to cut it to 23-20 with three minutes left in the first quarter.

Toppin then hit a 3-pointer and got a layup to go off an inbounds pass before McConnell sprinted towards the rim in the final seconds and got a driving finger roll to fall from 7 feet to cut it to 29-27 points and electrify the crowd. 

The lead changed eight times in the first six minutes of the second quarter, as Siakam scored six quick points and Tatum had five for the visitors during the stretch.

Indiana made its first three shots to start the second quarter, including two 3-pointers from Nembhard, to retake the lead at 37-35 with 9:38 left in the half, forcing a Celtics timeout. 

Out of a break, the teams continued exchanging blows until an 8-2 Boston run, during which Brown and Tatum each scored four points, put the Celtics in front 56-51 with 2:18 on the clock.

In the last 90 seconds of the half, Nembhard hit a pair of shots – including a fadeaway shot at the buzzer from the free throw line – and Nesmith drained two free throws to make it a one-point game at intermission. 

Thanks in part to seven points by Toppin in the third quarter, the Pacers stayed ahead 83-80  by outscoring the Celtics 26-22 in the frame. 

Out of intermission, Myles Turner hit back-to-back 3-pointers, Nembhard drained a trey and Nesmith sank a midrange shot off an offensive rebound, as the Pacers led 68-62, forcing a Boston timeout.

The Celtics got back within a possession thanks to a 7-2 run midway through the third quarter, and the game stayed close the rest of the frame as the Pacers stayed up by three.

Indiana made five of its first six shot attempts to start the fourth quarter, resulting in an 11-4 run, to finally gain some separation but the Celtics never went away.

McConnell hit his first three shot attempts of the fourth quarter, Siakam got a layup to go and Nembhard finished an and-one to put the Pacers ahead 94-85 with 8:57 left in the game but Boston chipped away at the lead until tying it at 102 with 2:40.

The next two minutes were sloppy, as both teams turned the ball over and missed multiple shots, before White hit the big basket in the final moments. Indiana had a chance to tie at the end, but a shot by Nembhard didn’t fall and the Celtics got an offensive rebound after missing a shot with eight seconds remaining.

Including the In-Season Tournament Finals,  the Pacers played in 100 games this season. They finished 47-35 in the regular season and 8-9 in the playoffs.

“I think for a young team like us, this experience in the playoffs is second to none. It was a lot of our first times,” Nembhard said. “There’s a lot of little things we maybe we wanted to do better and I think we’ve learned how these games go and what being in a series feels like. I’ve never played a team six times, or seven times, in a row. It’s an interesting feeling. It was a fun experience and a lot of things we can kind of reflect on and take into the next season.”

Inside the Numbers

The Pacers made 10 3-pointers and the Celtics drained 14 from deep.

Boston went 11-for-14 from the free throw line and Indiana finished 12-for-16.

Andrew Nembhard recorded his first postseason double-double.

The Pacers dished out 24 assists and the Celtics had 22 as a team.

Indiana turned the ball over 14 times and the Celtics had 11.

the Celtics outscored the Pacers 48-46 in points in the paint.

Boston had 10 steals and six blocks in the game.

Indiana’s bench outscored Boston’s second unit 34-10.

Indiana Pacers Postgame Media Availability vs. Boston Celtics (Game 4) | May 27, 2024

You Can Quote Me On That

“When you get into the third round of the playoffs, the level of competition rises each round. The demands are very, very high. One of the things our guys learned was that the individual expectations you have on a particular night, you have to throw that stuff away and just play the game as it comes to you. … There was a lot of growth there. Our guys just got better and better with all that stuff as the games went along.”  – Pacers head coach Rick Carilsle on the Eastern Conference Finals

“It was a great ride, and I know that I don't just speak for myself, but kind of getting this franchise back into the playoffs and making a run to the Eastern Conference Finals when not a single person had us going there was really fun. Just to play alongside the group in games like that is a great feeling.” – T.J. McConnell on the playoff run

“I think we all learned that we belong here. I think we had a great season. We’re a great team. We know we can play at this level. We can play at this level and know that there is stuff we can learn and get better at and we’ll do that this summer.I think we all expect to make another deep run next year.” – Aaron Nesmith on the season

“It’s hard. I think, when you look at all those games, we were right there. It just felt like they just (got) away from us. …. It’s hard just because we know how hard we worked and how close we were in all these games. And I know how hard is to come back to this position.” – Pascal Siakam on the Eastern Conference Finals

“It’s not going to get any easier. We introduced a style of play this year that people haven't seen in a long time and a lot of people wanted to try to mimic. The way this front office put this team together, orchestrated everything that we have here, was obviously masterful. Now we have to see how we get better. We had one of the best offenses in history, now we have to go do it again.” – Myles Turner on the offseason

“It’s been a lot of learning, growing, staying ready. I think my rookie year has been a lot. Not playing to starting in the Eastern Conference Finals. It’s been a great year and there’s a lot to be proud of, and I’m excited for the future.” – Ben Sheppard on his growth from the start of the season

“We are all young on this team. We have a lot more years in this league, hopefully. This whole year, I feel like we grew as teammates, we grew as a whole culture. It felt like everyone poured in everything they could for this organization every single day. Obviously, the season didn’t end the way we wanted it to but there’s a lot of good that came out of this season and we don’t want to overlook that.” – Obi Toppin on the season

Stat of the Night

Jaylen Brown (10 points)  and Jayson Tatum (17 points) combined for 17 of the Celtics’ 25 points in the fourth quarter.

Noteworthy

  • This season, Indiana made it to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since the 2014 campaign. The Pacers also hadn't won a playoff series since then before beating Milwaukee in the first round and New York in the semis.
  • No team in NBA history has come back from being down 3-0 in a seven-game playoff series.
  • Pregame, the Pacers honored Hall-of-Famer player Bill Walton, who passed away on Monday after a battle with cancer. Walton and Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle played together on the 1986 Boston Celtics that won an NBA title.  
  • Comedian and actor Mike Epps, an Indiana native, revved up the crowd before the game.