Celtics surge late vs. Pacers, take 3-0 lead in East finals

Jrue Holiday converted a go-ahead three-point play and added a key steal in the final seconds of regulation to help the Boston Celtics post a 114-111 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals at Indianapolis.

Jayson Tatum recorded 36 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists as Boston took a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. Jaylen Brown scored 24 points and Al Horford drained a career-high seven 3-pointers while scoring 23 points for the top-seeded Celtics.

Indiana’s Aaron Nesmith had a 3-pointer bounce off the rim as time expired.

Andrew Nembhard scored a career-best 32 points and added nine assists for the sixth-seeded Pacers. T.J. McConnell had 23 points, nine rebounds and six assists, Myles Turner added 22 points and 10 rebounds and Pascal Siakam also scored 22 points for Indiana, which lost at home for the first time in seven playoff games.

The Pacers played without All-NBA Third Team selection Tyrese Haliburton, who injured his left hamstring in Game 2.

Holiday wasn’t cleared to play until approximately 45 minutes before tipoff due to an illness. He finished with 14 points, nine rebounds and three steals.

Game 4 is Monday at Indianapolis.

Boston trailed by five before Horford drilled a trey with 1:12 left, and Holiday added his pivotal three-point play to give the Celtics a 112-111 edge with 38.9 seconds to go.

The Pacers were later looking for a go-ahead shot and eschewed a timeout. Nembhard was handling the ball and Holiday forced it away with 3.3 seconds remaining. Holiday was then fouled and made two free throws with 1.7 seconds to play.

Derrick White scored 13 points for the Celtics, who shot 47 percent from the field and were 16 of 46 from 3-point range.

Indiana shot 50.5 percent from the field and was a porous 5 of 22 from 3-point range. The Pacers shot just 38.3 percent overall in the second half.

Boston trailed by 18 midway through the third quarter before moving within 93-90 on Horford’s 3-pointer with 8:31 remaining in the game.

McConnell and Nembhard answered with baskets to push the lead to seven. Indiana later led 109-101 after McConnell’s driving layup with 2:38 left before the Celtics responded with a game-ending 13-2 run.

Nembhard scored 17 of his 21 first-half points in the second quarter as the Pacers held a 69-57 lead at the break. Indiana shot a scorching 63.6 percent from the floor in the half.

Siakam and Turner scored 15 points apiece before intermission for the Pacers. Tatum had 20 through the first two quarters for Boston.