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Playoffs 2019

NBA Playoffs 2019: Boston Celtics edge Indiana Pacers in Game 3 to take a 3-0 series lead

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Bojan Bogdanovic, Jaylen Brown [NBA Getty Images]

The Boston Celtics edged out the Indiana Pacers in yet another close game to take a 3-0 series lead.

Jaylen Brown provided the spark for the Celtics offensively, something that is generally out of character for the defensive-minded shooting guard. Brown's 23 points were a game-high, with Kyrie Irving (19 points) and Jayson Tatum (18 points) performing like we've seen so many times before.

Al Horford was dominant in this game too, finishing with 16 points, eight rebounds and four assists, including a couple clutch rebounds down the stretch.

Tyreke Evans' 19 points off the bench kept the Pacers in this one with five other players joining him in double-figures but their team effort fell just short.

With the Celtics one game away from sweeping the Pacers, they'll have to defend their home court to keep their season alive.

From more on Boston's Game 3 win in Indiana, we have you covered with takeaways below.

Jaylen Brown's big game

Jaylen Brown came out gunning and never looked back in Game 3.

Earning the start for the third straight game in place of the injured Marcus Smart, Brown made the most of his opportunity. The Celtics' shooting guard went a perfect 4-for-4 from the field, including 3-for-3 on 3-pointers for a total of 12 points in the first quarter.

He scored 14 points in the half, more than the Pacers scored in the third quarter as a team.

He went on to make his first eight field goal attempts before a heave to beat the shot clock in the fourth quarter spoiled his perfect shooting night.

Brown finished as the game's high-scorer with 23 points on 8-for-9 shooting from the field and a 4-for-5 clip from long range.

The Celtics have a number of players that can score the ball but Brown isn't generally a name that pops up as one of their premier scorers. When Brown has a game like this one, with their top scorers like Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum still performing like their usual selves, the Celtics become that much harder to beat.

Kyrie the closer

After a slow start, Kyrie Irving got it going in the second half, and after a back-and-forth game of runs, he decided it was time to shut it down.

In a decisive stretch in the fourth quarter, Irving came up with three huge plays to seal the W.

First, he blew by Corey Joseph for the pretty one-handed layup to give the Celtics a three-point lead.

He followed that up with this playground finish over Domatas Sabonis.

...and on the next posession he drew in the Pacers defence, before kicking to a wide open Al Horford for three to put the Celtics up six.

The 27-year-old finished with 19 points, 10 assists and five rebounds on the night and in a game that could have gone either way, he was the difference down the stretch.

Pacers' third-quarter fade out

In Game 1, it was an 8-point third quarter.

In Game 2, it was a 12-point fourth quarter; and in Game 3 the Pacers did it again, scoring just 12 points in the third quarter give the Celtics control of the game.

Coach Nate McMillan warned that the Pacers could not afford to go cold like that again and ultimately, it's what separated the two teams on the night.

The Pacers turned a two-point half-time lead into a seven-point deficit at the end of the third, going 5-of-23 from the field as they were outscored 21-12 by the Celtics.

Down 3-0 through the series, they can pinpoint one quarter in each of the first three games which has got them in this position.

Defence, defence, defence

For the third time in three games, the Celtics stout defence was able to hold the Pacers under 100 points.

The Pacers are averaging just 87.0 points per game thus far in the series, explaining how they find themselves one game away from elimination.

The Celtics have been one of the better defensive teams in the league all season but this stretch comes as somewhat of a surprise with their best defensive player, Marcus Smart, out with an injury.

Brown has risen to the occasion, filling Smart's usual role as the primary defender on the Pacers' primary scorer Bojan Bogdanovic, but the team as a whole has locked down this series.

The Pacers' points per game average is far and away the lowest of any team in the playoffs. They're shooting 39.8 percent from the field and 33.0 percent from 3-point range and even their free throw shooting (64.8 percent) is the worst of any playoff team.

Indiana's defence is what led them to the playoffs in the first place, and that's still held strong. The Celtics are only putting up 95.7 points per game this series but the Pacers inability to score has hindered their chances in this series.

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