By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Celtics lagged on offense for most of the opening 24 minutes on Sunday. But the second half completely tilted the court in Boston’s favor, as the C’s rolled to an 84-74 win over the Indiana Pacers to take Game 1 of their opening round playoff series. Game 2 takes place Monday night at TD Garden with the Celtics up 1-0 in the series.
It wasn’t exactly how the Celtics drew it up. Kyrie Irving started off slowly, but finished with a strong 20 points (6-for-17 shooting) to go with 5 rebounds and 7 assists in 33 minutes. Marcus Morris made up for pretty much everyone in the first half and finished tied with Irving for the team scoring lead.
After going down 43-33 late in the second quarter, the Celtics outscored the Pacers 51-31 from there. Although it looked like a worrisome situation in the first half, Boston will certainly take the W this way. Here are five more takeaways from an uneven but ultimately successful afternoon for the Celtics to open the 2019 playoffs.
— Morris’ hot start keeps it close. Kyrie Irving, Jayson Tatum, and Jaylen Brown combined for just 14 points on 6-for-17 (35.3 percent) shooting in the first half, so someone had to pick up the scoring slack or it was going to get ugly. Fortunately, Morris kept the C’s relatively afloat with 15 points in the first two quarters. If not for his first-half contributions, the game could have gotten ugly before halftime.
— Celtics flip the game in the third quarter. The C’s blew the Pacers off the floor from start to finish in the third, outscoring Indiana 26-8. Kyrie Irving contributed 8 points in the frame.
— Pacers spread the wealth early, falter late. Indiana hit halftime up 45-38 despite having zero players in double-figures scoring. Wesley Matthews, Tyreke Evans, and Cory Joseph tied for the team lead with 8 points each. The approach was not sustainable. The Pacers finished just 28-for-72 (37.8 percent) from the field, despite going an admirable 10-for-25 (35.7 percent) from three-point range.
— Horford’s all-around dominance. Al Horford was a reliably strong piece up and down the court for the Celtics, scoring 10 points to go with 5 assists, and leading all players with 11 rebounds and a +20 rating.
— Celtics need to clean up the turnovers. Boston won by 10 points despite committing 17 turnovers to Indiana’s 13. It plagued them in the first half, but by the third quarter it was the Pacers who were turning it over. Despite the roaring comeback, the C’s will definitely aim for a cleaner start to the game on Monday night in Game 2.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.