Celtics

Celtics' dominance over Pacers continues with Game 3 victory

Celtics' dominance over Pacers continues with Game 3 victory

INDIANAPOLIS -- This is the adversity Kyrie Irving has been talking about.

Boston did not play its best game of the season, or of this series with the Indiana Pacers getting a clear and undeniable bump from playing in front of their own fans.

But when it mattered, it was Boston making the tough shots, getting the defensive stops and rebounds and in doing so, are on the verge of ending this first-round series in as little time as possible after Friday’s 104-96 Game 3 win.

The victory gives Boston a 3-0 series lead with a chance to close out the series on Sunday.

Boston kept the Pacers faithful quiet for most of the first half, only for Indiana to close out the second quarter with a 26-10 run to lead 61-59 at the half.

The Celtics spent a good chunk of the second half with a slim lead, with the Pacers doing just enough to stay within striking range.

But when it mattered the Celtics did what they had done in the first two games - close things out playing strong.

And in doing so, they are positioned to sweep the Pacers.

Here are some of the standout performers in Friday’s game.

MVP

Jaylen Brown

The importance of Kyrie Irving down the stretch goes without saying for the Celtics. But for large chunks of the game, it was Jaylen Brown’s play at both ends of the floor that really stood out for Boston. He would finish the night with another solid job defensively against Bojan Bogdanovic (15 points on 6-for-16 shooting) while scoring 23 points himself.

Most Improved

Kyrie Irving

Speaking of Kyrie Irving, his impact was steady for the first three quarters but as we’ve seen from him in the past he took it to another level in the fourth. He would finish with a double-double of 19 points and 10 assists to go with five rebounds.

Jayson Tatum

For the second time in as many games, Jayson Tatum came through with a strong game, finishing with 18 points on 8-for-16 shooting.

Turning point

Boston, leading 93-89, got a 3-pointer from Al Horford to go ahead 96-89 which put the Pacers in the kind of hole they could not climb their way out of.

Sixth Men

Tyreke Evans

He was really the most impactful player for the Indiana Pacers. He would finish with 19 points which is usually a good thing for Indiana which had a 10-3 regular season record when he scored at least 15 points. Now 10-4, the only team to beat them in the Eastern Conference when Evans has 15 or more is the Celtics who did it back in January and again Friday night.

Marcus Morris

It was indeed a night of redemption for Morris who followed a 20-point Game 1 performance with a big fat goose egg in Boston’s Game 2 win. On Friday, Morris was somewhere in between, which is a good thing for Boston, as he tallied 11 points and seven rebounds.

Duds

Myles Turner

He has spent the lead-up to the last two games talking about needing the ball more. Well, he got his wish but couldn’t deliver the monster game Indiana needed from him He tallied 13 points but did so on 4-for-10 shooting from the field in addition to grabbing seven rebounds.

Up next: Boston has a chance to close out the series on Sunday with Game 4 at Bankers Life FieldHouse at 1 p.m.

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Breakfast Pod: Will Kyrie Irving reunite with LeBron James next season?

Breakfast Pod: Will Kyrie Irving reunite with LeBron James next season?

Kyrie Irving in a Lakers uniform? LeBron likes it, but will it happen? Also, who are the best players in the Stanley Cup Final? Check out our Bruins-Blues draft.

1:06 - A. Sherrod Blakley joins the BST crew to explain why he doesn't buy into the Kyrie/LeBron reunion rumors.

8:23 - Joe Haggerty and Bob Beers look ahead to the Bruins-Blues matchup by choosing their top 5 players in a Stanley Cup Final player draft.

13:37 - A. Sherrod Blakley and Danielle Trotta discuss if Kawhi Leonard is the best available NBA player this offseason and if the Celtics would have any shot at landing him.

LISTEN & SUBSCRIBE:

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Kyrie Irving to Lakers? Jackie MacMullan 'very strongly' believes that won't happen

Kyrie Irving to Lakers? Jackie MacMullan 'very strongly' believes that won't happen

We're more than a month away from the beginning of NBA free agency, but the Kyrie Irving-to-L.A. rumors are swirling.

ESPN's Brian Windhorst added some fuel to that fire by saying he believes Irving is "considering" the Lakers as a destination. LeBron James "liking" a photoshopped image of Irving in a Lakers uniform added even more.

But despite all the talk of Irving possibly reuniting with his ex-teammate, ESPN's Jackie MacMullan said on the latest Hoops Collective Podcast she doesn't see it happening.

“I did a little digging around and my feeling is very strongly that while LeBron and Kyrie have kissed and made up, that Kyrie is not going there,” MacMullan said. “He’s just not. I just don’t believe it. And I think people close to him just don’t believe it either.”

MacMullan's comments echo her ESPN colleague Stephen A. Smith's dismissal of the rumors from earlier this month.

We'll have to wait a while before the Irving rumors come to an end. NBA free agency begins on June 30.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.