The Boston Celtics are the first team to send a team packing in the 2019 NBA Playoffs. Sunday afternoon, the Cs took on the Pacers for Game 4 of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. Leading the series 3-0 entering the game, one final win would eliminate the Pacers and complete the first-round sweep. In a perfect culmination of hard work and grit, the Cs played their best game of the series in game four collecting the fourth and final win.
Despite the Celtics earning the sweep, this was a hard-fought series from both teams, with each game decided by 10 points or less. Boston showed that they have what it takes to win in these high-pressure moments, which is why Gordon Hayward and his teammates will be moving on to the second round.
“It’s the playoffs. Everything kind of intensifies a little bit and everyone’s focused,” Hayward said. “I think we all realize what the main goal here is. You have to have that urgency and that focus if you want to win. It’s hard to win in the playoffs.”
The first score of the game came courtesy of Cs point guard Kyrie Irving. Irving was fouled by Indiana’s Darren Collison and made the second of his two free throws. Gordon Hayward checked in later in the first quarter and immediately got to work, leading the team with six first quarter points.
Hayward scored Boston’s final four points of the quarter, but the Cs trailed 21-23 at the end of the first.
The second quarter was relatively quiet for G, but Boston kept the game close. Hayward’s lone basket in the second came with 1:22 left in the half. Hayward gave his team a 47-43 lead when he made a driving dunk. Indiana, however, would take a 49-47 lead into the locker room at halftime.
While Hayward rested on the bench for the first four and a half minutes of the third quarter, the Pacers built a six-point lead. G’s first second half points came on a 28-foot 3-pointer with just under six minutes remaining in the third. The quarter concluded with Marcus Morris making both of his free throws to give the Cs the 73-72 edge, setting up a tough final quarter to close out the series.
After quiet second and third quarters, Hayward erupted in the fourth. G put together a team-high 20-point performance by the end of the game, scoring nine points in the final five minutes of the game. G-Time took the ball from the top of the key and challenged Pacers’ Myles Turner. Hayward took the ball up through the paint, drawing contact from Turner, but was able to connect for an and-one opportunity. G went to the line where he made his third free throw of the night. Hayward’s points increased Boston’s lead to seven, 90-83, as they set their sights on the finish line.
“I think physically I feel way better now than I did at the beginning of the season,” Hayward said. “I think more than anything though, just having the reps, having the experience with this team and getting a chance to play with these guys and start to figure out strengths and where guys like to be on the court, what they like to do in different situations.”
Shortly after the Hayward and-one basket, Indiana’s Bojan Bogdanovic drew a foul from Gordon. Bogdanovic made both of his free throws. In efforts to make up for it, G-Time drained a 25-footer for three to push the lead to eight with under four minutes to play.
Slowly pulling away with what appears to be the win, Hayward hit the dagger, a 23-foot 3-pointer with 1:04 left in the game. Now with a 10-point lead, the Pacers couldn’t come back as the Celtics held on for a 110-106 series-clinching victory.
“I’m just proud of us for finding a way to win,” Hayward said. “I thought we did that throughout the series and tonight was no different, so it’s good that we can kind of heal up a little bit. Then, we have a lot of time to prepare for the next one too.”
In addition to Gordon’s team-high 20 points, he also added three rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block. Gordon was +13 while on the court, proving ready to play and driven to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Cs are the first team to make it to advance out of the first round and the first team to pull off a playoff sweep this postseason, and it’s the first series sweep by Boston since 2011.
Including Hayward, seven Celtics scored double figures in a complete team effort. Tatum and Morris each scored 18 points with eight rebounds, Irving and Horford both scored 14 points. Horford notched another double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Jaylen Brown scored 13 points with six assists and Terry Rozier scored 11 points.
Next, the Cs will face the winner of the Milwaukee Bucks-Detroit Pistons series. Milwaukee currently holds the series lead 3-0.