Sports

Celtics use second-half defense to down Pacers in Game 1

Celtics use second-half defense to down Pacers in Game 1

"Steal one, that's always an away team's dream", Kyrie Irving (20 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds) said after an 84-74 win at home on Sunday.

The Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers have used a balanced offense coupled with a sterling defense to reach the 2019 NBA Playoffs.

In the third, however, two things happened that allowed the Celtics to take control of the game completely: Kyrie Irving woke up, and IN went icy cold from the floor. Much of the ugliness of the game was a credit to the Pacers, who can make this series competitive only by making it as ugly as possible. Game 1 will give us a good look at the individual matchups that will define the series but, on paper, nearly all of them go in the Celtics favor.

The Pacers led by 11 points in the first half but had just eight points in the third quarter. "We were getting wide open looks and they were rattling in-and-out or they were just missed shots".

Celtics: Outrebounded the Pacers 55-42. They finished the quarter 2 for 19 from the field. "We didn't shoot particularly well, but we did the little things to get this win".

"I think what we were doing out there today was good for us, we just didn't make shots in that third quarter".

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Irving shot 6-for-17 from the field (35.3%) and 2-for-5 from beyond the arc (40.0%), yet still found other ways to make an impact while still leading the team in scoring despite the lack of efficiency.

"I thought we kind of lost our way", McMillan said. The Celtics never really got going offensively, but they never really needed to in a double-digit victory.

The Celtics have been at their best this season when they are forcing turnovers, spacing the floor and knocking down outside shots. The absence of Smart, who is out for several more weeks because of an oblique injury, loomed large; the Celtics, playing without one of the league's best perimeter defenders and one of its most fiery competitors, looked a step slow and oddly disengaged. They finished the first half with 10 turnovers, which led to 11 Pacers points.

This dunk by Brown helped jumpstart Boston's big second-half run.

While his team was able to recover from a dismal start, Stevens said the Pacers' defense deserved credit for making things hard on them throughout the game. "It's not so much about scoring as it is about the attitude coming in and really just throwing himself into the game".

"We just didn't make enough shots", Pacers forward Thaddeus Young said of the third. "Now you can really see where you can improve and where you can take advantage of weak spots".


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