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Celtics take 2-0 series lead vs. Pacers

USA TODAY
                                Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum shoots the ball against the Indiana Pacers in the second half today.
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USA TODAY

Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum shoots the ball against the Indiana Pacers in the second half today.

Jaylen Brown scored a game-high 40 points to lead the Boston Celtics to a 126-110 victory over the visiting Indiana Pacers today in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.

Brown was 14 of 27 from the floor and made 8 of 11 free throws. He added five rebounds. Boston had a 13-point lead after three quarters and the Pacers were never closer than 11 points in the fourth.

The victory gave Boston a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series, which will shift to Indianapolis for Game 3 on Saturday. The Celtics won Game 1 133-128 in overtime.

“I think we adjusted a little bit better in Game 2,” Brown said. “I still think we can play a little better, so we’re looking forward to doing that in Game 3.”

The Pacers are unsure whether point guard Tyrese Haliburton will be available for that game. He left with left hamstring soreness in the third quarter today. He collected 10 points and eight assists in 28 minutes. He missed 10 games in January with a left hamstring strain.

“Losing Ty for the game obviously is a big blow,” Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said. “We’ll know more (Friday) and even more Saturday. … I know you want details. I don’t have much.”

Pascal Siakam made 13 of 17 field-goal attempts and led the Pacers with 28 points. Andrew Nembhard added 16 points for Indiana.

Jayson Tatum and Derrick White each scored 23 points for the Celtics. Al Horford had six points and a game-high 10 rebounds.

Brown led all first-half scorers with 24 points. Boston trailed 27-25 after one quarter but held a 57-51 halftime lead.

Boston surged in front thanks to a 20-0 run. The Celtics scored the final three points in the first quarter and the first 17 points in the second quarter to take a 42-27 lead. Indiana didn’t score in the second quarter until Aaron Nesmith made two free throws with 6:45 remaining in the quarter.

Indiana was within two points, 68-66, after Siakam’s 3-pointer with 7:55 remaining in the third, but Boston had a 93-80 advantage entering the final 12 minutes.

The Pacers have a 6-0 home record in the playoffs this season. The Celtics are 4-0 on the road.

Indiana also lost the first two games against the New York Knicks in the conference semifinals and then won that series in seven games.

“The only thing we should be thinking about is they were down 2-0 a series ago and they brought it to Game 7 and they do a great job protecting their home court,” Boston coach Joe Mazzulla said. “They’re undefeated at home, so it’s going to take a lot more than confidence to get the job done, and we have to focus on the details and the execution. … I know they’re going to respond, so it’s up to us to do the same.”

The Celtics’ Luke Kornet left the game in the first quarter with a sprained left wrist and did not return to the court.

Boston center Kristaps Porzingis missed his eighth straight game with a calf strain.

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