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Celtics explode for 155 points to cruise past overwhelmed Pacers

Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (left) drives past Indiana's Isaiah Jackson for a layup en route to his 30-point effort in Wednesday night's blowout victory at TD Garden.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

Throughout training camp, the Celtics insisted that something just felt different this year. At the time it was hard to tell if it was normal early-season optimism, or perhaps something bigger.

But through the first four games, they have certainly done nothing to make their place as championship favorites feel like a mistake.

After a pair of hard-fought wins against fellow playoff squads, they have also dismantled a pair of inferior opponents, including Wednesday’s 155-104 demolition of the Pacers at TD Garden.

Boston (4-0) led by as many as 53 points, and that margin was an accurate depiction of the night’s arc.


Jayson Tatum had an efficient 30 points to lead the Celtics, who had seven players finish with 13 points or more. If there’s been one slight concern this year, it is the lack of bench production. The blowout gave the backups an extended run, and Sam Hauser and Payton Pritchard combined for 32 points on 11 of 18 shooting. The Celtics shot 56.8 percent from the field and 57.1 percent from the 3-point line.

The Pacers, who were without All-Star guard Tyrese Haliburton (ankle), made just 5 of 37 from 3-point range.

The start of this game felt like a continuation of Monday’s romp against the Wizards, and it provided another example of their diverse attack. This time, Jrue Holiday and Derrick White ignited the opening burst, combining to go 4 for 4 from the field.

It cannot be encouraging for an opponent to stare up at a double-digit deficit before Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have even inflicted any damage.

Boston has tended to be a bit isolation-heavy at the start of this season, and there were hints of doing much more than coexisting in the first quarter, particularly when Brown and Porzingis took turns finding each other for cutting dunks on consecutive plays.


The Celtics have been shooting at such a high clip this year, but even their misses have led to opportunities — either by scraping for offensive rebounds or being nuisances in the backcourt, as Al Horford was when he ripped the ball away from Aaron Nesmith and was fouled late in the first. That elicited perhaps the biggest cheer from Boston’s bench in a first half that was filled with highlights.

Tatum made a rare miscue when he turned the ball over seeking a two-for-one opportunity in the final minute of the quarter. But it worked out anyway when White took advantage of the extra possession by pulling up for a deep 3-pointer before the buzzer, giving the Celtics a 44-27 lead. The Celtics shot 76.2 percent from the field in the period.

They mostly maintained that cushy lead in the second quarter, as Tatum continued to thrive with his post work. He went to halftime with 21 points despite hitting just two 3-pointers.

The Pacers had success around the rim in the opening half and held a whopping 36-20 edge in points in the paint, but their 3 for 17 long-range shooting was damaging. The Celtics, who made 58.8 percent of their first-half 3-pointers, took a 75-54 lead to the break.

NBA leads are tenuous thanks to the 3-pointer, but that was simply not a weapon for the Pacers in this game. Wide-open looks thudded off the rim, and their surge never arrived. With just under 11 minutes left in the third, Indiana coach Rick Carlisle had just three timeouts left.


But no amount of sideline discussion was going to change this outcome. If anything, it just delayed it a bit.

Mazzulla, who has leaned heavily on his top six so far, seemed to understand that there was no need to press the stars on this night, with eight players playing at least 10 first-half minutes, and no one topping 17. Even in blowouts, he usually lets his starters play through the end of the third quarter, but the top players started heading to the bench for the rest of the night with three minutes left in the third.

Adam Himmelsbach can be reached at Follow him @adamhimmelsbach.