Celtics slap down Pacers

Indiana’s last legitimate gasp came to open the third quarter of Game 2.

At halftime the Celtics had a six-point lead that really should have been at least twice that. As is their annoying habit, they had led by 12 a moment earlier and looked fully capable of frittering that completely away when they were saved by the buzzer.

Why do the Celtics fray the nerves of Celtics fans? We are still searching for a psychologist, with a doctorate degree or without, who can root out a sub-conscious theory on which to peg that mystery.

But, as they usually do, the C’s put their foot on the gas pedal with greater force, mostly kept it pressed to the floor, and claimed a 16-point win.

Not that the margin of victory matters all that much, unless you bet the Pacers and took the 10.5 points ponied up by the bookmakers.

So, they’ll tote a 2-0 series lead with them to Indianapolis. Both games were eminently losable, and try to imagine the atmosphere in these parts if the Celtics were taking a 1-1 tie, or – heaven help us – an 0-2 deficit to Indiana.

The growling would be shaking the Garden’s foundation. Demands for the firing of Joe Mazzulla, Brad Stephens, the training staff, the water carriers, and anyone else with a visible tie to the team would be endlessly lighting up the talk-show switchboards.

They should all thank Jaylen Brown for saving them from a trip to purgatory.

Right now, Brown is the best player the Celtics have. He possesses strengths that are critical to anyone leading a team to the promised land.

Intelligence, intensity, athleticism and a great jump shot carried Brown to 40 points in Game 2. Real or imaginary, Brown seemed to slap down the Pacers when a slap-down was urgently needed.

Brown will argue his case with a referee when he believes he has been wrongly punished.

He won’t whine, he won’t stomp his feet and carry a pout on a trip around the floor.

None of this should be considered a slam at Jayson Tatum. An argument can be made, on just about any night, that Tatum is the most talented player on the floor.

An argument can be made, on just about any night, that Brown is the most ferocious man on the floor.

Asked if he felt slighted by failing to be chosen to an All-NBA Team, Brown answered with a glower usually reserved for whoever he might be guarding.

“We’re two games from the Finals. So, honestly, I ain’t got the time to give a (expletive deleted).

Feel free to fill in the blank.