Kyrie Irving Drops 37 Points as Celtics Storm Back, Beat Pacers to Take 2-0 Lead – Bleacher Report

Kyrie Irving Drops 37 Points as Celtics Storm Back, Beat Pacers to Take 2-0 Lead - Bleacher Report
Celtics, Rockets, and Bucks eye 2-0 series leads
BOSTON — The Boston Celtics are looking to take a two-nothing lead over the Indiana Pacers in Game 2 of their opening round playoff series. Game 1 was a throwback to the old days of beat em up basketball where points were at a premium and the team with the strongest will came out on top.

Scoring 84 point will not win a team many games. Holding the Pacers to 74 points was impressive, but its also an anomaly. They hadnt scored fewer than 89 all season, and even with playoff basketball being what it is, its prudent not to expect that to happen again.

Boston Celtics daily links 4/16/19

There were a lot of adjustments on their end, Brad Stevens said of the Pacers defense. They switched a lot more than they normally do.

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Tatums Top-Notch Defensive Contributions Not to be Overlooked

Switching defense is a gamble with certain players on the floor. In last years Eastern Conference Finals, LeBron did everything he could to switch onto Terry Rozier and attack that mismatch. The instant Indiana starts switching, the Celtics can find a target and exploit it.

One way we saw that happen in Game 1 was Gordon Hayward hunting the smaller Darren Collison (Hayward is 6′8″, Collison is 6 feet even).

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The Pacers have to respect Marcus Morris in the left corner and Kyrie Irving on the left wing. When Hayward sets the pick on the switching Collison, the ball is swung up to Al Horford instead of Tatum dumping it in because Horford having the ball there (a) is a threat to score and (b) is a threat to pass to Irving or Morris, so those guys have to stay close to their assignments.

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Hayward uses his size and strength advantage to pack Collison down to the rim. From there, the pass is easy, and Hayward is deep enough where thats automatic. If someone from the other side of the floor makes a run over to help, that guys man, Morris or Irving, will get the ball for an open 3.

This isnt some genius-level play that will get Brad Stevens into the Hall of Fame for basketball wizardry. The beauty of this is its simplicity.

Bojan Bogdanovic and Wesley Matthews hit three straight threes to put the Pacers back up, but three straight empty possessions with the lead allowed Boston to regain the lead and close out the win with 10 straight points in the final minute, aided by two brutal turnovers by the Pacers.

When people talk about ways Hayward helps his team, they never really talk about his size, but he can be a significant advantage against a team with smaller guards. Cory Joseph is 6′3″. Wesley Matthews is 6′5″. Even Tyreke Evans gives up a couple of inches at 6′6″. The Pacers know the Celtics are attacking these mismatches, and its up to them to decide if they want to continue.

Bogdanovic led the way for the Pacers with 23 points, but still gave up the two leading scorers in Kyrie Irving (37) and Jayson Tatum (26). The Pacers return home for Game 3 on Friday, searching for a win in hopes of extending the series back to Boston.

Were the ones that are switching, Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. We know that sometimes take advantage of that and we have to have the proper coverage to defend that if they are trying to take advantage of a matchup, whether thats on the perimeter or the post.

The Celtics can find easy ways to score by using simple plays like this to take advantage of Haywards height and skill if the Pacers continue to try switching on defense.

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BOSTON (AP) — The Celtics are preparing for their Game 2 matchup with the Pacers aware their series-opening win was notable more for its ugliness more than the outcome.

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Meanwhile, the Rockets and Bucks are heading into their respective Game 2s with the Jazz and Pistons expecting more competitive games after dominating victories.

Boston limited Indiana to eight points in the third quarter of its 84-74 Game 1 win. It was the Celtics lowest point total of the season and the first time they won a game in 2018-19 in which they didnt reach 100 points.

A frequenter of Boston sporting events, Belichick, who turned 67 years old on Tuesday, was joined by his longtime girlfriend Linda Holliday. The couple sat courtside, next to Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck and his wife Emilia Fazzalari.

For the Celtics that could mean tweaks to the starting lineup as they continue to adjust to the absence of Marcus Smart, who is recovering from a torn left oblique.

Its frustrating, but you have to take it day-by-day and one day at a time, Smart said Tuesday.

Wide receiver Julian Edelman, safety Duron Harmon, safety Devin McCourty, and cornerback Jason McCourty all also got some face time, with Edelman, donning a black beanie, garnering the loudest applause.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens acknowledged Smarts absence forced them to play differently and will continue to require adjustments.

Celtics legend Larry Bird, who was in the stands for Game 1, returned for Game 2 as well. He once again received a thunderous ovation upon being shown on the big screen during the second quarter.

That limits you a little bit, Stevens said. Well play Terry (Rozier) and Gordon (Hayward) more with Kyrie than we have. But I think ultimately theres going to be moments where Kyrie will be it. Well have one point guard on the floor.

Amid his pre-draft prep, Patriots coach Bill Belichick stopped by TD Garden to take in Game 2 of the Celtics-Pacers first-round playoff series.

Free throws. And just upping our intensity on the defensive end. They upped their defensive pressure. I think we backed up a little bit, Young said.

NEED TO KNOW: The 74 points scored by the Pacers in Game 1 marked the lowest total by a Celtics playoff opponent since Orlando scored 71 points on May 22, 2010. Indiana also shot a brutal 57% (12 for 21) from the free throw line. Those are two things the Pacers arent expecting to do two games in a row.

KEEP AN EYE ON: Bostons rotations. Jaylen Brown started in place of Smart in Game 1, but Stevens has lots of options to give the Pacers different looks.

PRESSURE IS ON: The Pacers starting lineup. Bojan Bogdanovic was the lone Indiana starter to reach double figures in Game 1. Part of that was Bostons pressure, but a lot of it was the Pacers missing open shots. If that trend continues, theyll be headed home down 2-0.

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NEED TO KNOW: Detroits 35-point loss in Game 1 was more lopsided then the Pistons entire four-game series the last time they were in the playoffs. In 2016, they lost four straight games to Cleveland by a combined 34 points.

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KEEP AN EYE ON: Milwaukee had a 22-11 advantage in fast-break points in Game 1 and outrebounded the Pistons 54-46. If Detroit is going to keep this game closer, turning those two categories around may be the best path.

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PRESSURE IS ON: Andre Drummond is Detroits other star frontcourt player, and with Griffin out, he wasnt able to hold off the Bucks onslaught in the series opener. He had 12 points before being ejected in the third quarter for a flagrant foul on Milwaukee star Giannis Antetokounmpo.

NEED TO KNOW: After their 32-point win in Game 1, the Rockets talked about the need to maintain focus, after they won the opener of their second-round series against the Jazz last season only to lose Game 2 at home. The Rockets went on to win that series in five games but dont like the fact that they lost that game in Houston and are determined not to let it happen again.

KEEP AN EYE ON: Harden. The Jazz used a defense focused on making the left-handed superstar go to his right in Game 1. The tactic kept him from using his step-back 3-pointer as effectively as he normally does. If they use the same tactic in Game 2 look for Harden to continue driving to the paint and dishing off to teammates such as Eric Gordon and P.J. Tucker for corner 3s.

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PRESSURE IS ON: Mitchell. He will need to play better if the Jazz hope to even this series after he had five turnovers and no assists in the opener.

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