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.
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.
Morris entered the starting lineup with Marcus Smart on Nov. 23 and stayed there until being replaced by Aron Baynes for the final few weeks of the regular season. He had 20 points in Game 1.
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).
But, again, the Pacers still have a chance to come back, down just 94-91. They now have two glaring examples of why running the iso-Bojan play was a bad idea. They probably even have enough evidence to show that Bogdanovic has become a radioactive target that would pose a danger to any potential team success this game. That line of thinking would only leave three scoring options off the inbounds pass, but with the scrappy talent on the floor, Indiana should still be able to at least get a shot off—even with just those three.
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.
Now, itd be understandable if Pacers coach Nate McMillan realized his player had a hot hand and told his players to get Bogdanovic the ball more frequently down the stretch. Whats not understandable is giving a spot-up shooter the ball a million miles away from the basket, and putting him in iso situations like hes some sort of ball-dominant guard—which, in case its not clear, hes not. Unsurprisingly, the bad game plan led to some bad results.
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.
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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.
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.
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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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