NBA

Celtics thankful to Holiday's 'big-time play' after taking 3-0 lead against Pacers

By Sports Desk May 26, 2024

The Boston Celtics were indebted to Jrue Holiday after they moved one win away from reaching the NBA Finals with Saturday's victory against the Indiana Pacers.

Holiday converted a three-point play with 38 seconds remaining, then made a game-saving steal as the Celtics overcame an 18-point deficit to beat the Pacers 114-111 for a 3-0 Eastern Conference finals lead.

Indiana's Andrew Nembhard seemed set to claw the Pacers back into Game 3 late on, yet Holiday stepped across for a "trademark steal" to guide his side over the line.

"That's a trademark steal that he always gets with the inside hand," Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said of Holiday.

"He gets that a lot usually when a guy is coming down the sideline, but he got it in transition. He made a big-time play."

As Nembhard looked to cut inside the court, Holiday suggested he always knew what was coming.

"He's a right-hand driver," the Celtics hero said after the game, "and he'd been very, very aggressive all night."

Nembhard managed 32 points and nine assists but even that brilliance was not enough to outsmart one of NBA's best defensive players.

"I was trying to get a shot up," said Nembhard. "He got in front of me. I lost the ball, slipped. Turnover."

Jayson Tatum impressed for Boston with 36 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists and no turnovers in 44 minutes, yet he put all the focus on the match-winning Holiday.

"I mean, can't speak highly enough about Jrue," said Tatum. "The ultimate teammate competitor, obviously a champion, wasn't at shootaround today, he was sick.

"Dealing with chills and stuff like that. And we've all been there, how tough that is, to fight through it, and for him to come out there and lay it all on the line for us, make the game-winning play essentially, especially on the defensive end.

"Jrue is just a big-time player, and he made a tremendous play."

The Celtics can clinch their second NBA Finals appearance in three seasons with a win in Game 4 on Monday in Indianapolis.

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