Celtics sweep Pacers to reach NBA finals

Agence France-Presse
Celtics sweep Pacers to reach NBA finals

WASHINGTON – The Boston Celtics clinched the Eastern Conference championship on Monday (Tuesday Manila time) with a 105-102 win over the Indiana Pacers, sweeping the series 4-0 and booking a spot in the NBA Finals.

The Celtics will face the winner of the Western Conference finals, where the Dallas Mavericks hold a 3-0 over the Minnesota Timberwolves ahead of Tuesday's Game 4 (Wednesday in Manila).

The Celtics win in Indianapolis was their seventh straight in the post-season but they left it late against a Pacers team again without injured star guard Tyrese Haliburton.

Jaylen Brown once again proved decisive.

He hit a step through to level at 102-102 with 2:40 left in the fourth, then superbly rose to block Andrew Nembhard at the rim.

With 45 seconds remaining Brown found Derrick White in the corner who sank the three-point jumper that ultimately clinched the game.

Nembhard, who had 24 points, 10 assists and six rebounds for the Pacers, missed a 3-pointer with 33 seconds left which would have tied the game.

Brown led Boston's scoring with 29 points and Jayson Tatum had 26 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists.

The Celtics return to the finals two years after losing to the Golden State Warriors as they search for their first NBA title since 2008.

"It's been nothing but a grind, we haven't skipped no steps all season," said Brown, who was named the Eastern Conference finals MVP.

"We've got a bunch of great guys in this locker room, tough guys. Our coaching staff has been great, front office great and now we want to take the next step," he added.

It was the third time in the four series games that Indiana had lost after holding leads or being tied in the final minute of a game.

"Expectations will be raised for next year, which is good," said Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle.

"There are challenges to meet over the summer for our guys to get better, all of us involved need to get better," he added.

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