It’s all about the journey, says Jaylen Brown.
And in this stage of the climb, the Celtics continue to find themselves dealing with spotty offense, this time dropping their second straight of the young season to Indiana, 108-107.
Domantis Sabonis drove on Robert Williams for the game-winner with 7.7 seconds left.
Indiana’s Malcolm Brogdon had broken a 100-100 tie with a deep 3-pointer with 3:25 left, when Grant Williams rebounded a Jaylen Brown miss and drew the foul. He missed the first of two and hit the second with 3:03 left, leaving the Celtics down by two points.
T.J. Warren missed, and Tatum hit a 15-foot turnaround for a 103-103 tie over Damontas Sabonis. Myles Turner answered, and after writhing on the floor following a collision, Marcus Smart went to the locker room holding his left shoulder.
Neither side could convert until – at one point with Rob Williams coming over the top to block Brogdon, and Tatum missing an open 3-point attempt – Domantis Sabonis hit the first of two free throws with 24.9 seconds left and missed the second.
Tatum quickly drove, got fouled with 18.2 seconds left, and hit both times, cutting the Indiana lead to 106-105.
Smart and Robert Williams trapped, with the latter stealing the ball from Warren and the former scoring for a 107-106 lead.
Indiana inbounded with 11.8 seconds left and Sabonis not only scored after driving on Williams, but also drew the foul. He missed the free throw, and the Celtics took possession with 7.7 seconds left.
Tatum, defended by Brogdon, missed a deep 3-point attempt from the top of the circle.
Though the Celtics closed out the third with a 4-0 run, the Pacers carried an 88-83 lead into the fourth. The Celtics were mostly an ill-at-ease offensive unit in the third – Tatum had three points in the quarter – and as evidenced by a Tatum throwaway to start the fourth, they hadn’t lost that malaise.
Tatum started to heat up when he spun around Doug McDermott and finished on the other side of the basket, followed by a Tristan Thompson put-back that cut the Indiana lead to two points.
But soon the Indiana lead had pushed back out to eight points on T.J. Warren’s transition dunk off a missed Tatum 3-pointer.
Brown answered with 7:50 left, and when McDermott missed a deep 3-pointer, Brown hit a fallaway, cutting the Pacers lead to 96-92 with 7:15 left.
Smart hit a floater, cutting the Pacers edge to two, and when Brogdon missed from the top of the circle, Thompson scored off a Brown dish for a 96-96 tie with 6:17 left.
Sabonis broke the tie from 15 feet, Brown was called for an offensive foul, and the Pacers power forward scored again, this time off a drive. Brown came back to score off a Smart feed, cutting the Indy lead to a basket, Warren air-balled a 3-point attempt.
Tatum threw the ball away, but Rob Williams stole the ball right back and dunked it for the 100-100 tie.