Boston Celtics

Boston Celtics

Boston Celtics

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - JANUARY 06: Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics celebrates after making a shot in the second quarter against the Indiana Pacers at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on January 06, 2024 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

Jayson Tatum has been playing some of the best basketball of his career over the past few weeks, and the second night of a road back-to-back didn’t do anything to cool him off. Tatum led the way with a monstrous performance as the Celtics beat the Indiana Pacers 118-101 on Saturday night in Indianapolis.

These teams came into the game ranked first (Indiana) and fifth (Boston) in the NBA. The very beginning of the game didn’t reflect that, with 11 points scored in the first four minutes. It wasn’t until midway through the first quarter the Celtics got the first big run of the game – an 8-0 stretch that put the C’s up 14-5.

Most of the first quarter after that was played around a 10-point margin. Jaylen Brown was the hot hand early, scoring a game-high eight first quarter points. Tatum didn’t record his first point until 1:17 to go in the first, but scored six quick points late.

While those two were hitting shots, the Pacers opened up ice cold. Indiana was 7-of-23 from the floor, 1-of-10 from three, and 2-of-5 from the line through the first 12 minutes, leaving the Celtics up 29-17 after the first frame.

  • An early 8-0 Pacers run cut that Celtics lead back to single digits, as Indiana found some rhythm. They hit 9-of-18 shots at one point to cut the deficit to as few as eight points, although from there the Celtics responded with an 8-0 run.

    Tatum was a big reason the Pacers struggled to shrink the lead. He finished the second quarter with 14 points, and had a game-high 20 in the first half.

    Still the Pacers had one last punch left before going to the locker room. They scored seven unanswered points in the final 1:17 of the first half to make it 58-49 at the break.

  • Halftime didn’t cool off the Pacers’ momentum. They went on an 11-4 run early in the third quarter and got within two points of the Celtics before the Celtics responded with an 11-4 run of their own.

    Midway through the quarter the Pacers had another run, 10-4, that got them back within three points. That came while the Celtics dug deep into their bench, as Tatum and Derrick White were sitting with four fouls each.

    Another issue for the Celtics was free throws – after not getting a free throw in the first half they went 6-14 in the third quarter, missing eight of their first 12. That opened the door for the Pacers further. While they never tied the game they kept the margin under five for most of the third after that second run, and had the score at 84-81 with a quarter to play.

  • During the quarter break the Celtics seemed to find something, and opened the third quarter on a 7-2 run. That later turned into a 14-2 run, with Tatum scoring 10 of the Celtics’ first 17 points in the quarter.

    From there the Celtics’ defense closed the game out. They had four blocks in the fourth quarter, and rendered the final few minutes of the game nothing but a formality.


  • After not recording a point over the first 11 minutes of the game, Tatum finished with a game-high 38 points on 14-of-23 shooting hitting eight of his 13 three point attempts. Tatum also had 14 rebounds and six assists, while playing most of the second half with four fouls.

    Brown turned in a big performance as well. He finished with 31 points on 13-of-20 shooting. Al Horford was the only other Celtics to finish in double digits, with 10 points. Horford also had eight assists.

    The Celtics played most of this game without Kristaps Porzingis. He was poked in the eye by Aaron Nesmith in the first quarter and had to leave the game. After briefly trying to return he came out of the game again and went back to the Celtics’ locker room for the rest of the night. He ended up playing only six minutes.

  • Celtics on NBC Sports Boston on Twitter: "Kristaps Porzingis left the the game early in the 1st (right eye irritation) and is questionable to return / Twitter"

    Kristaps Porzingis left the the game early in the 1st (right eye irritation) and is questionable to return

    With the win, the Celtics improve to 28-7. They’re now three games up on the Milwaukee Bucs for the best record in the Eastern Conference.

    The Celtics will stay in Indianapolis after this one, with another game against the Pacers coming up on Monday. Coverage of that game begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on the Bet MGM Rock 92.9 Celtics Radio Network.

  • Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at [email protected].

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