INDIANAPOLIS — After a horrendous start to the season, the Boston Celtics knew they would have to steal a few wins coming down the homestretch.
That would be an apt description of what happened in Wednesday's improbable 83-81 win over Indiana.
Celtics forward Jeff Green, with an assist from Kevin Garnett, scored the game-winning basket with 0.5 seconds to play as the C's capped off an impressive 11-0 run to end the game.
With the win, Boston (33-27) extended their winning streak to four in a row and maybe just as important, secured the head-to-head series with the Pacers this season which could come in handy in case the two finish with an identical regular season record.
Just a few short days ago, Boston's West coast trip ended with a win in Utah that many believed was their most impressive victory of the season.
Wednesday's win over Indiana was arguably even more impressive when you consider the Pacers have been so dominant at home all season and they have been playing arguably the best basketball of any team not named the Miami Heat for the past couple of months.
As the final horn sounded, the C's sprinted off the court in a collective surge, symbolic of the surge they are making in the Eastern Conference standings.
Not only are they making a strong push for home court advantage by claiming the fourth seed, but another week of playing like this and they could be making a run at yet another Atlantic Division crown which for weeks has been considered a given to go to the New York Knicks.
Boston's remarkable finish had a very nondescript start with a pull-up jumper by Avery Bradley in the first putting the Celtics ahead 11-8. But the Pacers responded with an 8-2 spurt to lead 16-13. Boston hung around most of the quarter, but a 7-0 Indiana run to end the first gave them a 27-19 lead.
Back-to-back 3s by Green and Bradley brought the C's within 36-34 in the second quarter, but the Pacers still managed to pull away and take a 49-42 lead into the half following a buzzer-beating lay-up by Paul Pierce.
It only took about six minutes for the Pacers to double their lead (63-49) in the third quarter and push the Celtics on the brink of getting blown out.
But the Celtics, as they have done all season, battled back despite struggling to make shots and getting beat on the boards.
Boston faced a double-digit deficit (68-58) going into the decisive fourth quarter, but gradually chopped away at it before Green delivered the game-winning dagger for the Celtics.