Irving, Hayward thrilled by crucial Celtics win
Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward expressed their delight after the Boston Celtics recorded an emphatic 117-97 victory over the Indiana Pacers in their biggest game of the season to date.
The Celtics and Pacers are highly likely to meet in the Eastern Conference playoffs and Boston are now in pole position to claim home-court advantage for that series, Friday's impressive win moving them one win clear of their opponents with two games to play.
Hayward led the way for the Celtics, making all nine of the shots he attempted to finish with 21 points, while Bojan Bogdanovic was limited to just four points as the Pacers suffered a damaging defeat.
"We did what it took to get a convincing win like we did by playing hard, doing the right things, staying aggressive on the defensive end, matching their physicality, and really setting the tone of the game," said Irving, who chipped in with 17 points.
"When we do that, we're pretty tough to beat, especially when guys are being aggressive going to the basket. [We] really made them play our pace of game. So I'm just really, really happy with that."
Hayward became the first Celtics player since Kevin McHale in 1986 to be perfect from the field and score at least 20 points.
Gordon Hayward scored 21 points on a perfect 9-of-9 shooting, marking the first Celtics player to score 20+ points on 100% shooting since Kevin McHale (25 pts) on March 2, 1986— Celtics Stats (@celtics_stats) April 6, 2019
"I don't know how you guys find all of these stats," said the former Utah Jazz star. "More important, we got the win. It was a great job by us, a big win. I thought we guarded them really well and that allowed me to get some good looks and good shots…and we were able to knock them down."
Pacers small forward Doug McDermott insisted his team, who close out the regular season with games against the Brooklyn Nets and Atlanta Hawks, will bounce back.
"I think tonight [Friday night] will fuel us," he said. "You could hang your head and give into all of it and not believe, but we have a lot of guys in this locker room that believe in each other. Our coaching staff believes in us.
"We're going to put this game behind us as fast as we can, have a good day of practice and continue to try and get better. We feel like we can play with anyone in this league."