Boston Celtics

Holiday details clutch steal that capped Celtics' Game 3 comeback win

Jrue Holiday's last-second steal helped finish off an 18-point comeback for Boston.

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Jrue Holiday was questionable entering Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals due to an illness, but he left as the hero as the Boston Celtics extend their series lead to 3-0 with their 114-111 comeback win over the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night.

Down by as much as 18 points midway through the third quarter, the Celtics rallied back in the fourth with Holiday leading the charge: He didn't miss a shot in the final 12 minutes, scoring nine points. After Boston claimed a one-point lead in the final minute, Holiday picked the pocket of Andrew Nembhard to take possession and help seal the victory.

Following the chaotic ending, NBC Sports Boston's Abby Chin caught up with Boston's Game 3 hero to discuss the final moments of the Celtics' win.

"Just reacting to the player," Holiday said of how he was able to pull off the clutch steal, as seen in the video above. "We know [Nembhard] likes to drive right, and I kind of shot in and got the steal."

After the steal, Holiday was fouled and sent to the line, where he knocked down both shots. With less than two seconds left on the clock, the Pacers drew up a play to attempt a buzzer-beater 3-pointer off the inbound, but former Celtic Aaron Nesmith missed the open look.

"[I] just stay faithful to what I've been doing my whole career," Holiday said of how he stays poised in those moments. "I know it's a blessing to be here, so I appreciate every moment that I'm on the court, but just staying consistent."

This isn't Holiday's first last-second, game-saving steal in the playoffs. Ironically, Holiday helped the Milwaukee Bucks cement their win in Game 5 of the 2022 Eastern Conference Semifinals in similar fashion -- against the Celtics. With seconds left in a one-possession game, Holiday stole the ball from Marcus Smart to close out the game and give the Bucks a 3-2 series lead.

"We had to turn it up," Holiday added of Boston's defense after going down 18. "We know that they hadn't lost at home yet, we know they play very well at home just by how they started out the game -- well the first three quarters they played very, very well -- but we just had to turn it up a notch and hopefully we get one next game."

Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla wasn't surprised by Holiday's clutch steal on Nembhard.

"That's a trademark steal that he always gets with his inside hand," Mazzulla told the media following the win.

While their offense struggled at times, the Celtics' defense eventually came alive, combining for 12 blocks and 7 steals. Holiday and Derrick White, despite shooting a combined 7-for-21, made up for their offensive struggles on the defensive end, together logging five blocks and three steals.

"I think just believing in ourselves," Holiday said of Boston's ability to battle back and make clutch plays. "Having faith in ourselves that we have a very talented team. Everybody can do a lot of things and we trust in each other, and I think it shows."

While 18 points is a large comeback, the Celtics were on the other end of a bigger swing earlier this season when they allowed the Atlanta Hawks to comeback from a 30-point deficit, marking the seventh-largest comeback in NBA history. While it was unfortunate at the time, it taught them that no lead is ever safe, and you can always battle back.

"No," Holiday answered confidently when asked if he ever thought they were out of the game. "We've been in similar situations, we've been in reverse situations, and just knowing that if you stick with it and keep grinding, we can get the win."

The Celtics will look to close out the series and become Eastern Conference champions in Game 4 on Monday night in Indiana. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. ET, with NBC Sports Boston's coverage beginning at 7 p.m. ET with Celtics Postgame Live.

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