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Brad Stevens says Boston has to play their ‘best game yet’ to beat Pacers in Game 3


The Boston Celtics are taking a 2-0 series lead into Indiana in their first-round matchup against the Pacers, but they could just as easily be on the flip side heading into Game 3 on Friday night.

The Pacers led by seven points at the half in Game 1, but were outscored 26-8 in the third quarter and eventually fell 84-74. In Game 2, the Pacers led by 11 after three quarters, but the Celtics clawed back into the game and launched a 10-0 run in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter to retain the home court advantage.

While Celtics fans have every reason to be confident in the current lead the team has built, Boston head coach Brad Stevens understands that his team will have to keep elevating their level of play, especially in Game 3 in Indiana:

Even without star shooting guard Victor Oladipo, the Pacers made the playoffs thanks in part to a 29-12 record at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, which was the eighth-best home record in the NBA.

The Celtics were bailed out in Game 2 by Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum, as Irving scored 37 points while adding seven assists and six rebounds in a dominant performance, while Tatum scored 26 and made a number of critical plays down the stretch.

Irving and Tatum made 26 of 46 field goal attempts, but the rest of the team shot under 37 percent from the field. Celtics center Al Horford has been dealing with an illness, and Marcus Morris has had an awful series, shooting 0-for-8 in Game 2.

Boston could also benefit from a more aggressive Gordon Hayward moving forward, who struggled in Game 1 but was more efficient on Wednesday.

The Pacers are a team with nothing to lose, and should be hungry to get back on track on their home floor, so Stevens’ words would seem to ring true.