NBA playoffs: Jaylen Brown drops 40 as Celtics take 2-0 lead; Tyrese Haliburton exits with hamstring injury

It wasn't as dramatic as Game 1, but the Boston Celtics will take it.

The Celtics defeated the Indiana Pacers 126-110 in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals on Thursday to take a 2-0 lead as the series heads to Indianapolis. Game 3 is scheduled for Saturday at 8:30 p.m. ET.

After requiring a final-minute meltdown from Indiana on Tuesday, Boston was all business — Jaylen Brown in particular. The hero of Game 1 went off for 40 points on 14-of-27 shooting, scoring at all levels and bothering the Pacers on defense all night.

The scoring output tied a playoff career high.

Brown played a central role in the 20-0 run that put the Celtics in control at the end of the first quarter and the start of the second. The Pacers would cut the lead to as little as two points in the third quarter, but the Celtics kept throwing haymakers and were up by 15 by the end of the frame.

Brown's co-star, Jayson Tatum, needed much longer to get going, but still finished with 23 points, six rebounds and five assists, while Derrick White had one of his best nights of the playoffs with 23 points and six assists.

Considering they are still without starting center Kristaps Porziņģis, it has been an ideal start to the series for the Celtics, who could end the series as early as Monday and give the big man all the rest he needs to be ready for the NBA Finals.

May 23, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown (7) reacts after making a three point basket against the Indiana Pacers in the first half during game two of the eastern conference finals for the 2024 NBA playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Jaylen Brown was the star for the Celtics in Game 2 against the Pacers. (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports) (USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Connect / Reuters)

Unfortunately for the Pacers, falling behind 2-0 wasn't the only loss of the night. Star guard Tyrese Haliburton exited the game in the third quarter and did not return, with Indiana announcing him as out with left leg soreness. He had 10 points on 4-of-8 shooting with eight assists and zero turnovers.

Haliburton had appeared to be dealing with something at halftime, but further replays showed him walking away grimacing after an awkward step in the third quarter. Pacers coach Rick Carlisle told reporters after the game that Haliburton's hamstring was sore at halftime and he tried to play through it.

The Pacers will monitor Haliburton as they enter a must-win Game 3 in Indiana, but it could be a tough injury to come back from considering Haliburton missed 10 games in January with a hamstring strain.

With Haliburton limited, Pascal Siakam stepped up to lead the Pacers with 28 points on 13-of-17 shooting and five assists.