Scrappiness and heart can only get you so far.
Despite the fact that many of us were so discouraged by the Boston Celtics' 2018-19 regular season (spoiler alert for Bill Simmons: they did not win 65 games), the sheer amount of overwhelming talent they have on the roster was bound to take over against a Victor Oladipo-less Pacers team.
But their coaching advantage has taken center stage, too.
Three times, Boston's been tested by tough first halves. All three times, they've clamped down on Indiana tremendously; the Pacers have put up some of the worst third-quarter shooting numbers you'll ever see.
The Pacers have — to put it mildly — had their chances in this series. They are now 5-for-13 in the fourth quarter, and 10-for-36 in the second half. They'll leave thinking they could've won for the third straight game — but will be down 3-0 in the series.— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) April 20, 2019
It's been as brutal as the numbers would reflect.
Pacers were 6 for 25 in the third quarter. Big Tatum three there in the final minute.— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) April 20, 2019
In the game of "should'ves," Indy comes out on top. But not on the scoreboard. Boston's intensity coming out for the second half has been unmatched, three consecutive times. It's officially a trend.
Nowhere is the perfection better personified in Game 3 than through Jaylen Brown. Brown ended 8-of-9 for 23 points, inserted into the starting lineup, and only one late trey short of actual error-free basketball.
Our money's on the Celtics being kind on the road in Game 4, knowing they've skated by and have a larger challenge ahead of them in the talent-stacked No. 1 seed Bucks. Indy's got to capture one of these tight ones...right?
Not if Brad Stevens has his say.