The first quarter may have led a lot of people to believe this would be an easy win for the Celtics, but the crowd seemingly willed their team back into the game and Boston was forced to fight for this win in Indiana after a total of 9 lead changes/ties during the game. Irving, Tatum, and Horford were all efficient scorers, yet Jaylen Brown shined as the true offensive hero tonight as he made every attempt from the field until well into the fourth quarter and finished with the team-high in points.
Tonight was the type of game that the Celtics of old used to lose – remember: they didn’t win a single road game in the first round last year, and only won one through out the entire post-season – but they dug deep and came away with the commanding series lead thanks to timely defense and clutch shooting performances from their starters.
The Celtics are in great position now, since no team in NBA history has ever completed a comeback after trailing 0-3 in a series. They’ll look to complete the sweep of Indiana during the Sunday matinee at 1pm EST. Final Score: 104-96
WHAT WENT WRONG
- After a great first quarter, the Pacers went on a 17-3 run to tie the game at 52 with about five minutes remaining in the first half. The Pacers would remain within shouting distance and even take the lead shortly thereafter.
- Thanks to a combination of Boston’s offense cooling off considerably (just 18 points in the second quarter) and allowing Indiana to score 33 points in that same time frame, the 41-28 first quarter lead quickly dissipated into a 61-59 deficit for the Celtics at half.
- Jayson Tatum, after playing a phenomenal game up until this moment, missed two crucial free throws with under a minute and a half remaining in the game. The Pacers regained the ball and were still within 2 possessions because he couldn’t manage to hit just one free throw, so you can bet he’ll hear about this one during film.
- Speaking of free throws, the Celtics made LESS THAN 60% of their attempts from the charity stripe (13/22). If they just sank a few more of those looks then this game would have been a lot less stressful.
- After high expectations going into his homecoming, Gordon Hayward only registered 6 points over his 32 minutes.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
- The Celtics answered the Pacers first 3 points with a 9-0 run that would foreshadow much of what to expect in the remainder of the game: Jayson Tatum making his defender look silly.
- The Celtics came out on fire and dropped 41 points in the first quarter alone. Much of this was thanks to Tatum, Irving, and Brown, who all made it clear from the beginning that they planned to be aggressive in taking it to the basket and finding their shot.
- The Celtics seemed to find their switch and were playing with a fire and tenacity seldom seen during the regular season. The crowd was itching to get into it, but whenever they’d start rumbling the Celtics answered with a big shot to shut them up. Case in point, the clip below. When the Pacers crowd starts trying to motivate their team, Kyrie rips their heart out.
- Jaylen Brown had one of his best games as a pro, as his first miss of the night didn’t come until there were just about five minutes remaining in the game, and it was a desperation heave from Steph distance at the end of the shot clock- so that didn’t even count in my eyes. He finished 8/9 according to ESPN.com, though, and he finished with the team leading 23 points.
- Kyrie’s skillful passing was on full display, as he finished with 10 dimes along with his 19 points on 7/19 shooting from the field. It’s not 37 points, but this performance, combined with his much improved defense tonight, is exactly what the Celtics needed.
- Kyrie was doing whatever it took to win. In one instance late in the fourth quarter, he dove on the floor to steal a loose ball away from a scrambling Pacers player, then followed that up with a deep three ball on the other end to complete a 5-point swing at a crucial time. He said that the playoffs were going to be a different story and so far he’s certainly played like it.
- The Celtics led by just 1 point with about six minutes remaining when they decided to really clamp down on defense. Their aggression paid off, as the Pacers only managed to score 9 points on 22% shooting for the remainder of the game.
- Tatum and Horford both shot 50% from the field and dropped 18 and 16 points, respectively. Tatum was most impressive displaying his beloved mid-range tonight, draining fall-away jumper after fall-away jumper in his defenders eye. Horford, meanwhile, truly shined passing (4 assists along with 8 rebounds) and was the beneficiary of many of Kyrie’s assists himself- the two have developed one of the strongest two-man games in the NBA
WHAT THE HELL
Mike Gorman pointed this out on the broadcast, and it’s the damn truth, so it’s worthy of repeating: the first quarter was a whole different ball game. The Celtics shot 8 of 10 from deep, vs. 7 of 24 the rest of the way, and out-assisted the Pacers, 12 to 4 (while Indiana out-paced 16-9 them during the following three quarters). For a team that normally struggles out the gate, this was a pleasant surprise for the Celtics. Now let’s see if they can spread that out a bit better through out the rest of the game..
Jaylen Brown was on a tear all night long. He’s not exactly feared as a deep threat, so you knew it was going to be a good game for him once he sank this one.
It’s always a thing of beauty watching these two hook up.
There was no denying this team tonight.
This little hesitation move he pulls almost isn’t fair.