Celtics vs. Pacers score, takeaways: Jaylen Brown scores 40, downplays All-NBA snub as Boston goes up 2-0

The Boston Celtics are up 2-0 in the Eastern Conference finals after a 126-110 win over the Indiana Pacers in Game 2 on Thursday night. Jaylen Brown scored a game-high 40 points and Boston led for most of the game after a big run to start the second quarter. Jayson Tatum came alive in the second half to add 23 points for Boston. For the Pacers, they head back to Indiana with a 2-0 series deficit and with an injured point guard.

Pacers All-Star Tyrese Haliburton was ruled out of Game 2 in the second half and is dealing with a hamstring injury. Haliburton had 10 points and eight assists in 27 minutes before exiting. Pascal Siakam had a team-high 28 points for the Pacers on 13-of-17 shooting. Indiana led after the first quarter but went on a lengthy scoring drought that saw the Celtics score 20 unanswered points.

The Celtics are two wins away from their second NBA Finals trip in three seasons, while the Pacers are in familiar territory. Indiana lost its first two games on the road against the Knicks in the second round of these playoffs before taking four of the final five to oust New York. Game 3 is set for Saturday night at Gainbridge Fieldhouse, where the Pacers have not lost in this postseason.

Here are some key takeaways from the game:

Brown says big night not inspired by All-NBA snub

Jaylen Brown saved the Celtics in Game 1 with the biggest shot of his career, and followed it up with one of his best playoff performances ever. It came one day after he was fell just short of making the All-NBA Teams, which Boston guard Derrick White called a "big-time snub." 

Brown, though, said he drew no extra motivation from the voting results. "We're two games from the finals so honestly I don't have the time to give a f---," Brown said post-game. 

Less than a minute into the game, Brown knocked down a 3-pointer after a Celtics offensive rebound, and never looked back. He finished with 40 points on 14-of-27 shooting from the field to tie his playoff-career high and his own mark for the second-highest scoring game by a Celtic in Eastern Conference finals history. 

Playing the porous Pacers certainly helps, but this is a major bounce back showing from Brown, who was terrible in this round last season against the Miami Heat. He averaged just 19 points per game and shot 41.8% from the field, which was a major reason the Celtics were upset by the No. 8 seed. Through two games of this series he's put up 66 points on 51.1% shooting and is halfway to his point total for the entire series versus Miami. 

Celtics' offense gets on track in second half

The Celtics have been one of the league's top offensive teams all season long, and they showed why in the second half with a dominant 24 minutes of basketball in which they punished the Pacers' lack of rim protection, got to the free-throw line and caught fire from behind the arc. 

They shot 26-of-40 from the field, including 9-of-19 from downtown, and turned it over just three times. While the Celtics can be prone to lackadaisical stretches where they stand around and get sloppy with the ball, we saw none of that after the break. A two-minute stretch in the fourth quarter, after they had already built a 17-point lead, was their longest scoring drought of the half. 

The Pacers actually scored 59 points on 53.5% shooting themselves in the second half and still got outscored by 10 points during that stretch. 

Haliburton leaves with hamstring injury

No one thought much of Tyrese Haliburton checking out of the game late in the third quarter, but when he still hadn't returned by the middle of the fourth, everyone started asking questions. As it turned out, he left with left hamstring soreness. That is the same hamstring that has been bothering him since January. 

It appears he tweaked the hamstring on a rather innocuous play in the third when he was trying to guard Jayson Tatum. 

Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle said that Haliburton's hamstring was bothering him at halftime, but his star point guard wanted to give it a go in the second half. 

"He gave it a shot and gave it all the effort that he could," Carlisle said. "It wasn't going well. So the trainers determined that he needed to go to the back and get worked on."

It's too early to know Haliburton's status for Game 3 in Indianapolis on Saturday, but even if he plays this is bad news for the Pacers. He tried to play through the injury at the end of the regular season and was much less effective than he was early in the season. The Pacers are already in trouble down 2-0, and it's going to be extremely difficult for them to pull off a comeback if Haliburton is not at his best. 

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FINAL: Celtics 126 -- Pacers 110

Even though they won Game 1 in dramatic fashion, the Celtics weren't pleased with their performance and vowed to be better in Game 2. They certainly were, as they took the lead early in the second quarter and led the rest of the way to take a 2-0 lead. 

Jaylen Brown, who was snubbed from the All-NBA Teams early in the day, led the way with a brilliant 40-point performance to tie a playoff career-high. Jayson Tatum and Derrick White both added 23 points, while Jrue Holiday went for 15 points and 10 assists. 

The Pacers shot 52.4% from the field, but could not get enough stops or keep the Celtics off the offensive glass. If the loss wasn't enough, they also lost Tyrese Haliburton to a hamstring injury. 

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Haliburton out for the game

The Pacers have ruled Tyrese Haliburton out of the remainder of the game due to left leg soreness. It's unclear when or how he got injured, but that's obviously not great news for the Pacers as they try to avoid falling down 2-0. Haliburton had a chest injury that was examined during halftime, but he returned in the third quarter before checking back out with the leg problem. 

He finishes with 10 points, four rebounds and eight assists. 

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Third quarter: Celtics 93 -- Pacers 80

The Celtics' offense was unstoppable in the third quarter, as they shot 16-of-22 from the field en route to 36 points, which has helped them push their lead back to double-digits heading into the fourth quarter. Jaylen Brown is still leading the way with 33 points, and he finally got some help from Jayson Tatum, who snapped out of a funk to shoot 4-of-6 in the third. 

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Halftime: Celtics 57 -- Pacers 51

The Celtics started the second quarter on a 17-0 run and built a 16-point lead, but the Pacers roared back in the final few minutes of the frame to cut the deficit down to six at the break. That's a major win for the Pacers, and is similar to Game 1, when they always had a response to the Celtics' runs. 

Jaylen Brown has 24 points to lead the Celtics, while Jrue Holiday has once again stepped up with 10 points and seven assists. Pascal Siakam has 16 points on 8-of-9 shooting for the Pacers. 

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Celtics dominating the second quarter

The Celtics have turned it up defensively and are getting whatever they want offensively in the second quarter, which they've started on a 17-0 run. Going back to the late stages of the first quarter, it's a 20-0 cumulative run for the Celtics, who have built a double-digit lead and forced a Pacers timeout. It appears the Pacers' run of 10 consecutive quarters shooting at least 50% is going to come to an end. 

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First quarter: Pacers 27 -- Celtics 25

The Pacers' offense keeps on chugging along. They're shooting 57.9% from the field so far, and have had six different players make a shot already. Only six turnovers have prevented them from taking a bigger lead at the end of the first. TJ McConnell has seven points off the bench to lead them in the scoring department. 

The Celtics are getting some decent looks, but are at just 41.7% from the field. They've crashed the glass for six offensive rebounds, however, which they've turned into seven second-chance points to hang in the game. 

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Offenses still reigning supreme

The two teams combined for 261 points in Game 1, which was the most points in an Eastern Conference finals game since 1987. Through the first few minutes of Game 2, it's clear that this is once again going to be about two teams trying to outscore each other. The Pacers are 6-of-9 from the field, while the Celtics are 6-of-11. 

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"We know we can play with these guys" 📽️

Indiana dropped the first game of the series in Boston, but pushing the game into overtime proved they are equal adversaries for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Check out this hype video the Pacers released before the game. Get your popcorn ready for Game 2. 

May 23, 2024, 11:15 PM
May. 23, 2024, 7:15 pm EDT
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JT mic'd up from Game 1 win 📽️

It wasn't the cleanest win but Jayson Tatum and the Celtics had plenty to cheer about when they outlasted the Pacers in overtime earlier this week. Tatum and Al Horford made sure to keep an eye out for Tyrese Haliburton and others. They'll try to do it again tonight when they host Indiana for Game 2.

May 23, 2024, 11:00 PM
May. 23, 2024, 7:00 pm EDT