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Boston completes rare sweep

China Daily | Updated: 2019-04-23 09:36
Indiana Pacers guard Tyreke Evans (12) shoots the ball past Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward (20) during the first quarter in game four of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs in Indianapolis, US on April 21, 2019. [Photo/Agencies]

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana - Gordon Hayward and Marcus Morris took care of some housecleaning on Sunday.

The shooting stars of the Boston Celtics dusted off their 3-point rangefinders in time to help complete a clean sweep of the Indiana Pacers in their NBA Eastern Conference quarterfinal playoff series.

Hayward scored 20 points, Morris added 18 and the duo combined for five 3s over the final 5 1/2 minutes to give Boston a 110-106 victory and its first 4-0 series victory in eight years.

"I knew there was going to be a spark off the bench, and that person was Gordon Hayward," All-Star guard Kyrie Irving said.

"I'm glad he had a chance to put on a performance like that in a closeout game."

Just how rare is a sweep for the franchise with a league-record 17 titles?

Since 1986-87, the Celtics had done it just once.

Between Boston's title-clinching sweep over the Minneapolis Lakers in 1958-59 and its perfect run through the 1985-86 Eastern Conference finals against Milwaukee, the Celtics achieved it just twice - in 1979 against Houston and in 1980 against Chicago.

When coach Brad Stevens was asked on Saturday how he'd react if his players earned some time off, he said he wasn't sure.

Now, last year's Eastern Conference runners-up can start a new to-do list with a potential matchup looming against the top-seeded Bucks.

"It's going to take everything we have," Hayward said.

"That's why it's good we finished this series. We can rest up, prepare, and have some extra time."

Clearly, the Celtics played better than a No 4 seed in this series.

They won the first three games on the strength of a suffocating second-half defense that twice limited the Pacers to 12-point quarters and once to eight.

This time, they finished the job by grinding it out behind a group of polished veterans.

The game swung when Indiana guard Cory Joseph was called for a flagrant-one foul with 6:45 left. Jayson Tatum made both free throws to give Boston an 83-82 lead.

After Al Horford made 1 of 2 free throws on Boston's next possession and then Morris knocked down a 3 and Hayward completed a three-point play to give the Celtics a 90-83 advantage with 4:15 to go.

Associated Press

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