NBA Basketball

Pacers take 'do-or-die' mindset into Game 4 vs. Celtics

(Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Indiana Pacers will seek to avoid their second four-game first-round playoff defeat in three years when they host the Boston Celtics in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference series on Sunday afternoon in Indianapolis.

The fourth-seeded Celtics suffocated the Indiana offense for the third consecutive time Friday night en route to a 104-96 road win that put them up 3-0 in the best-of-seven.

The Pacers were swept 4-0 by the Cleveland Cavaliers in first round in 2017.

Meanwhile, Boston will be attempting to complete its first 4-0 triumph since whitewashing the New York Knicks in the first round in 2011.

Each team has recorded a playoff sweep over the other in the past. The Celtics won 3-0 in the first round in 1992, before the Pacers turned the tables in a 4-0 triumph in the first round in 2004.

Kyrie Irving made most of the big plays down the stretch in Game 3 that dug the fifth-seeded Pacers' big hole.

He had two baskets, two assists and two free throws in the final 5:53 as the Celtics kicked their overall play into high gear after the Pacers had closed within 88-87.

"Now that the stakes are at their highest, the pressure or whatever you want to call it, I feel like we are settling into who we really want to be," Irving insisted to reporters afterward. "And that's just an overall great team with everybody ready to play. It could be anyone's night."

That surely was the case in Game 3, when four Celtics starters scored 16 or more points and three reserves combined for an additional 26 points in the win.

Of course, it hasn't just been about the offense. The Celtics have held the Pacers to 96 or fewer points in all three games and limited them to 42.0-percent shooting in Game 3.

Indiana coach Nate McMillan hopes there's still time to turn things around.

"I've been asked a lot this season, 'Is it a big game tomorrow?' Sunday is a big game," he assured after Friday's loss. "It's do-or-die for us. It's as simple as that."

Playing without injured star Victor Oladipo, the Pacers have not responded well to big games down the stretch.

With home-court advantage on the line in the first round of the anticipated matchup with the Celtics, Indiana was 44-25 on March 15 and two games up on its rival.

However, the Pacers have since fallen apart, first by going 4-9 down the stretch of the regular season to allow the Celtics to pass them despite winning just seven of 13 games.

Boston swept a pair from Indiana in the final two weeks, 114-112 at home and later 117-97 on the road.

Defense was the issue then, with Indiana allowing 11 of its 13 opponents to score 102 or more points. The Celtics averaged 115.5 in the two high-stakes meetings.

But offense has been the Pacers' biggest problem in the postseason, as they've lost three games by a total of 26 points despite limiting the Celtics to an average of just 95.7.

If a Game 5 is necessary, it would be played Wednesday at Boston.

--Field Level Media

Updated April 21, 2019

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Teams Score Time
NCAA FB
NC State   12:00pm
Boston College  
Duke   3:30pm
Virginia  
North Carolina   3:30pm
Virginia Tech  
NHL
Carolina 2 00:00 2nd
Anaheim 4
Teams Score Time
Pittsburgh 27 F
Syracuse 20
Ohio State 52 F
Northwestern 3
Auburn   12:00pm
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Clemson   12:00pm
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Temple   3:30pm
SMU  
Tulsa   3:30pm
Cincinnati  
UL Monroe   3:30pm
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Baylor   4:00pm
Oklahoma State  
Missouri   4:00pm
Vanderbilt  
Arizona State   6:00pm
Utah  
Kentucky   6:00pm
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Kansas   7:00pm
Texas  
Florida State   7:30pm
Wake Forest  
Michigan   7:30pm
Penn State  
Tennessee   9:00pm
Alabama  
Boise State   10:15pm
BYU  
Teams Score Time
American League
Houston 1 9th
New York 4
New York   8:08pm
Houston  
Teams Score Time
Washington 112 F
Philadelphia 93
Toronto 123 F
Brooklyn 107
Houston 144 F
Miami 133
New Orleans 117 F
New York 116
Memphis 91 F
San Antonio 104
Los Angeles 55 00:00 Half
Golden State 71
Teams Score Time
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New Orleans   Sun 4:25pm
Chicago  
Philadelphia   Sun 8:20pm
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New England   Mon 8:15pm
New York  
Teams Score Time
Colorado 5 F/OT
Florida 4
Dallas 2 F
Pittsburgh 4
New York 2 F
Washington 5
Columbus 2 F/OT
Chicago 3
Detroit 1 F
Edmonton 2
Carolina 2 00:00 2nd
Anaheim 4
Vancouver   1:00pm
New Jersey  
Montreal   3:00pm
St. Louis  
Boston   7:00pm
Toronto  
Colorado   7:00pm
Tampa Bay  
Dallas   7:00pm
Philadelphia  
New York   7:00pm
Columbus  
Ottawa   7:00pm
Arizona  
Vegas   7:00pm
Pittsburgh  
Florida   8:00pm
Nashville  
Calgary   10:00pm
Los Angeles  
Buffalo   10:30pm
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MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES AT TALLADEGA
Pos # Name Start Pos
1 12 Ryan Blaney 9
2 6 Ryan Newman 13
3 11 Denny Hamlin 40
4 10 Aric Almirola 5
5 34 Michael McDowell 22
6 3 Austin Dillon 20
7 32 Corey Lajoie 33
8 9 Chase Elliott 1
9 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr 7
NASCAR XFINITY SERIES AT DOVER
Pos # Name Start Pos
1 00 Cole Custer 3
2 7 Justin Allgaier 8
3 22 Austin Cindric 2
4 11 Justin Haley 11
5 98 Chase Briscoe 1
6 1 Michael Annett 16
7 9 Noah Gragson 7
8 23 John Hunter Nemechek 17
9 8 Zane Smith 10
NASCAR GANDER OUTDOORS TRUCK SERIES AT TALLADEGA
Pos # Name Start Pos
1 20 Spencer Boyd 25
2 4 Todd Gilliland 6
3 51 Riley Herbst 7
4 24 Brett Moffitt 8
5 52 Stewart Friesen 10
6 16 Austin Hill 13
7 17 Tyler Ankrum 2
8 88 Matt Crafton 1
9 2 Sheldon Creed 5