The NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Finals got a little more intense. It was thought that Jrue Holiday's sickness would effectively ruin his impact and Kristaps Porzingis' absence would be more felt in Game 3 against the Indiana Pacers. All of that held true until the third quarter. Andrew Nembhard and TJ McConnell were the only ones capable of penetrating Joe Mazzulla's defensive schemes. Even Al Horford, Jayson Tatum, and Derrick White started to feast as they had a block party in the middle of the game.

The Celtics take the commanding three-to-nothing series lead against the Pacers. At one point, Rick Carlisle's squad was threatening to pull away and lead by as much as 20. Thankfully, Jayson Tatum and the rest of the squad had a heavy foot on the pedal to keep attacking the rim. The Celtics defense that allowed for an 18-point deficit? Well, it locked up every single one of the Pacers come the clutch. Their most impactful play of the game even came when an ill Jrue Holiday stole the ball to prevent their NBA Playoffs opponents from getting a shot up to tie the game.

Celtics get battle-tested

May 23, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) is fouled by Indiana Pacers forward Aaron Nesmith (23) in the first half during game two of the eastern conference finals for the 2024 NBA playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
© David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

This massive performance to net the Celtics a 111 to 114 victory had everyone going wild. Some were even lashing back at the narratives thrown against the Jayson Tatum-led squad.

“The Celtics are 11-2 in the playoffs: undefeated on the road, undefeated in clutch time games, and Tingis Pingis has only played 2 games so far. Yet, I still see insecure MFs trying to talk down on this team. Cope harder,” a fan wrote.

Members of the Celtics faithful were already making big proclamations too, “Yeah, the Boston Celtics is getting banner #18. All they have to do is stop the Center combo with a healthy KP and they got it. Two nights of back-to-back 18-point comeback victories is wild.”

Others were also very thankful that the Milwaukee Bucks sent Jrue Holiday away in the offseason, “I didn't see any way we were getting back into the game lol. I saw it as a lost cause. Al Horford and Jrue came in clutch.”

Overall, the vibes were just immaculate, “Awesome comeback! The Celtics have a lot of players who can step up when needed. I love Horford getting 3s, White blocking shots, and Tatum scoring and assisting! It took a tremendous team effort to come back and win like that!”

Pacers receive a whooping in the clutch

The Celtics' defensive execution was on another level in Game 3 of this NBA Playoffs clash. TJ McConnell's shot at the 2:38 mark was the last field goal that this team allowed. After that, it was a barrage of shots that buried the Pacers and got the whole home crowd miserable.

Jayson Tatum led the way by being the first player in league history to record at least 38 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists without being forced to commit a turnover. Al Horford and Jaylen Brown also combined for 47 points. Impact plays by Jrue Holiday and Derrick White then disallowed any more points from Andrew Nembhard and TJ McConnell in the clutch.

It was not the most dominant win in terms of the scoreboard. But, it was a great show of resilience to claw back up despite being down big.