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Pacers hold off Celtics to improve playoff position

By Kyle Beery | @BeeryK

The Indiana Pacers split a pair of road games over the weekend — a win in Dallas on Saturday and a 29-point blowout loss in Atlanta on Sunday.

They got that bad taste out of their mouth Tuesday with a 103-98 win over the Boston Celtics at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, holding the Celtics under 100 points for just the fifth time in 30 games. They have lost four of those games.

The Pacers (36-31) improved their playoff position with the win over the third-place Celtics (39-28). They are now just three games behind third place, and hold a two-game cushion on the eighth-place cut-off line with 15 games remaining. The Pacers are 3-1 against the Celtics this season and hold a tiebreaker advantage.

The Celtics led by as many as four points late in the third quarter, but Monta Ellis hit a buzzer beater for a 71-70 lead.

He hit a shot clock buzzer beater earlier in the quarter via a diving save and pass from Myles Turner.

Ellis had 16 points, seven rebounds and six assists, his tenth straight game in double figures.

Paul George led all scorers with 25 points on 9-of-16 shooting, but it was the Pacers’ bench that made the biggest difference Tuesday night.

Jordan Hill (sore knee) was questionable heading into the game. But he felt good enough to play and contributed a big 15 points and three rebounds off the bench.

Four other bench players contributed a combined 18 points, as Indiana edged Boston’s bench 33-32.

Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 21 points, eight assists and six rebounds. Jonas Jerebko added 17 points off the bench.

The Pacers were without CJ Miles and newcomer Ty Lawson, who are both expected to make a return in the near future.

Indiana will play seven of its next eight games at home and close the regular season with nine of its final 15 games against teams with losing records.

Thursday night against Toronto could be another important game in playoff positioning, as the Pacers are just two games behind the Raptors and would take a 2-1 season series lead, with one more remaining in April.

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