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.
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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.
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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).
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.
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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.
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.
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.
CLNS Media Manning: Celtics Beat Pacers but Did Not Flip the Switch Kyrie Irving Talks Adjusting To Playoffs Without Marcus Smart Marcus Smart Addresses Media For First Time Since Injury; Says First Day Without Grimacing Pain Brad Stevens Says Marcus Smart is an inspiring guy to be around Celtics News: Marcus Smart Speaks on Injury, as Boston Prepares for Game 2 vs. Indiana Souza: Celtics Must Channel Spirit of Marcus Smart until Day Smart Returns Winning Plays: Episode 6
NESN NBA Rumors: Celtics Host Three Senior Guards In Pre-NBA Draft Workouts WEEI Marcus Smart talks about his injury (oblique), far from setting a return date CBS Boston Marcus Smart Updates His Painful And Frustrating Recovery From An Oblique Injury Mass Live Celtics vs. Pacers: How the new starting lineup fared, shooting numbers & 13 things to watch in Game 2 Boston Sports Journal Winning Plays Podcast: Looking at Game 2 Adjustments for Celtics/Pacers Marcus Smart staying positive ahead of lengthy recovery from torn oblique
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USA Today Brad Stevens: Seeks NBA title with Celtics after Final Four regrets SI .com 2019 NBA Playoffs: The Celtics are finally where they want to be Tufts Daily Anti-Bostonian: The Celtics Game 1 win is a mirage The Ringer Kyrie Irving and the Celtics Seek Their Highest Level Cavs Nation Cavs news: Brian Windhorst says Kyrie Irving was angry after winning 2016 title