Sunday's NBA playoffs: Celtics sweep Pacers to reach East semis
Indianapolis — Gordon Hayward and Marcus Morris took care of some housecleaning Sunday.
They dusted off their 3-point shooting touch in time to help the Boston Celtics complete a clean sweep.
Hayward scored 20 points, Morris added 18 and the duo combined for five 3s over the final 5½ 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. (On Sunday) and that person was Gordon Hayward,” All-Star guard Kyrie Irving said. “This is his city. 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 a franchise with a league-record 17 titles?
Since 1986-87, the Celtics had done it just once — in the first round against the New York Knicks. And between the Celtics’ title-clinching sweep over the Minneapolis Lakers in 1958-59 and their 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.
So when coach Brad Stevens was asked Saturday about how he’d react if his players earned some time off, Stevens said he wasn’t sure.
Now, last year’s Eastern Conference runner-ups 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 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 1 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.
Hayward and Morris were just getting started. Over the next three-plus minutes, they made three more 3s to give Boston a 102-90 lead with 1:04 to go.
Even a final flurry of 3s couldn’t bail out Indiana. Bojan Bogdanovic scored 22 points and Tyreke Evans scored a playoff career-high 21 as the Pacers got swept for the second time in three years — the only two times it has happened in franchise history.
“They got hot,” Pacers forward Thaddeus Young said. “They started making shots and we stopped making shots. That’s one of the biggest thing that’s haunted us through this whole series.”
►Golden State 113, (at) L.A. Clippers 105: Kevin Durant scored 33 points, Klay Thompson added 32 and the Warriors beat the Clippers to take a commanding 3-1 lead in their first-round playoff series.
Stephen Curry was in foul trouble for the second straight game and finished with 12 points. Andrew Bogut fouled out with 5:50 remaining in the game with eight points and 10 rebounds.
The Warriors were 17 of 19 from the free throw line. They controlled the boards, 49-33, led by Curry and Bogut with 10 rebounds apiece.
Rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the Clippers with a career-high 25 points. Danilo Gallinari added 16 points but was just 5 of 20 from the floor. Patrick Beverley had 12 points and 10 rebounds.
►Toronto 107, (at) Orlando 85: Kawhi Leonard scored 34 and the Raptors beat the Magic to take a 3-1 lead in their Eastern Conference first-round series.
Pascal Siakam and Norman Powell each scored 16 for the Raptors, who can advance with a home win in Game 5 on Tuesday. Toronto has now won three consecutive postseason games, only the third time that’s happened in franchise history.
Aaron Gordon scored 25 for the Magic, making his first seven shots of the second half. Evan Fournier scored 19 and Nikola Vucevic added 11 for the Magic, who committed 17 turnovers that became 21 Toronto points.
►Portland 111, (at) Oklahoma City 98: Damian Lillard scored 15 of his 24 points in the third quarter, and the Trail Blazers held Russell Westbrook without a basket in the second half in beating the Thunder to take a 3-1 lead in their series.
C.J. McCollum scored 27 points, Al-Farouq Aminu had 19 points and nine rebounds and Maurice Harkless added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Trail Blazers. Portland can close out the series Tuesday at home.
Paul George had 32 points and 10 rebounds for Oklahoma City. Dennis Schroder added 17 points.
Westbrook scored 14 points on 5-for-21 shooting. He missed his final 10 shots and was 0-for-7 for one point in the second half.
Nets GM fined, suspended
Nets general manager Sean Marks was suspended one game without pay and fined $25,000 by the NBA for entering the referees’ locker room after Brooklyn’s loss to Philadelphia in Game 4 of their playoff series.
The Nets lost, 112-108, on Saturday in a game in which Brooklyn’s Jared Dudley and Philadelphia’s Jimmy Butler were ejected after a scuffle broke out following Joel Embiid’s flagrant foul against Jarrett Allen in the third quarter.
The Nets were already angry about a flagrant foul Embiid committed against Allen in Game 2, believing it should have warranted an ejection, and coach Kenny Atkinson complained that the 76ers held Allen before he turned the ball over on the Nets’ last chance to tie Saturday’s game. Atkinson said coaches were told that wrapping players as they tried to roll to the basket would be a point of emphasis this season.
The NBA agreed with Atkinson in its Last 2 Minutes report, determining that Tobias Harris should have been called for a foul for wrapping his arm around Allen and restricting his movement with 12 seconds remaining.
Marks’ penalty was announced by Byron Spruell, the NBA’s president of league operations. He will serve his suspension Tuesday, when the 76ers try to wrap up the series in Game 5 in Philadelphia.
The NBA later fined Dudley $25,000 and Butler $15,000, saying they both escalated the altercation that spilled into the stands.