Boston, MA– The NBA post-season is officially underway and the Boston Celtics got their first taste of what the playoffs are like in 2019 with Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward on the court on Sunday. With a series against the Indiana Pacers that appears to be headed towards a gritty battle of wits and strategy, the Celtics definitely needed to secure that first victory right out of the gate to help themselves going forward.
In today's NBA, it is increasingly rare to see a team score only 84 points and still pull of the victory, but that's exactly what the Celtics did yesterday with their 84-74 prevailing over the Pacers. The game was a complete testament to the ways in which these teams have been coached as Nate McMillan and Brad Stevens both emphasize a defense-first coaching approach. Defense definitely won out here, as Indiana's highest scorer, Cory Joseph, netted just 14 points in the game.
Still, though, Boston was forced to mount a comeback as Indiana took a seven point lead into halftime. The Celtics did not have to chip away because they kind of devoured the Pacers in the third quarter instead, outscoring them to the tune of 26-8 in the period.
Leading the way for Boston's offense were Marcus Morris and Kyrie Irving, who tied for the team high in points with 20 apiece. Irving's first possession as a Celtic in the playoffs was an enchanting menagerie of pivots, pump fakes, and indefensible shots. If he continues to go to this level, the Celtics are in for a treat going forward. Also reassuring was Jayson Tatum who, after returning from a knee injury, managed to play 34 minutes and score 15 points, pointing to his health returning.
With a one game to zero lead, the Celtics are in the driver's seat for the series, but by no means do they have any reason to become complacent. Game two of the series is just around the corner and will take place on Wednesday evening at the TD Garden.