Celtics SWEEP Pacers to reach NBA Finals after Bill Walton’s death as Boston legend’s memory is honored in dramatic 105-102 win

The Boston Celtics advanced to the NBA Finals on Monday as they completed a sweep of the Indiana Pacers with a dramatic 105-102 win.

Indiana, playing at home, led by nine with 8:57 remaining but surrendered a late lead for the third time in four games as the Celtics returned to the Finals after getting there in 2022. 

Boston got 29 points from Jaylen Brown, who was named Eastern Conference Finals MVP after the win, while Jayson Tatum added 26 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists. 

The win came just hours after the death of franchise great Bill Walton was announced.

Walton spent just two seasons in Boston but made his mark as a part of the 1986 championship team.

Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 29 points and was named the East Finals MVP afterwards

Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla and Jayson Tatum embrace after the game on the court

Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla and Jayson Tatum embrace after the game on the court

He was honored by the Pacers before the game tipped off at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

With Indiana up six with 7:23 remaining, Brown accidentally caught the Pacers’ T.J. McConnell in the face, sending the guard flying to the ground and leaving him writhing on the floor in pain.

To the home fans’ dismay, the play was not ruled a flagrant foul – and it seemed to serve as a turning point for the visitors’ as they outscored their hosts 17-8 the rest of the way.

After Brown hit a floater to tie the game at 102 with 2:40 remaining, a series of frantic possessions saw both teams go scoreless over the next two minutes.

Boston forced two turnovers and Brown blocked Andrew Nembhard´s short at the rim with 1:05 left.

But Derrick White hit a go-ahead three-pointer with 45 seconds remaining and that was enough for Boston to hold on after Jrue Holiday chased down a missed Jayson Tatum three-pointer with eight seconds left, with Boston running out the clock before Indiana could foul.

Al Horford is seen celebrating the win at the final buzzer of the game on Monday night

Al Horford is seen celebrating the win at the final buzzer of the game on Monday night

The Indiana Pacers paid tribute to Bill Walton before their playoff game against the Celtics

The Indiana Pacers paid tribute to Bill Walton before their playoff game against the Celtics

Indiana, which again played without two-time All-Star Tyrese Haliburton, lost its second straight at home, as Nembhard led the team with 24 points, 10 assists and six rebounds.

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

The Celtics will likely face the Dallas Mavericks, who lead the Minnesota Timberwolves 3-0 in the Western Conference Finals.

Either way, they’ll have plenty of time to rest up as the Finals don’t begin until June 6 – giving injured center Kristaps Porzingis more than a week to get healthy. 

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