April 23, 2019

Celtics beat Pacers in game one 84-74

15 April 2019, 08:22 | Henrietta Morgan

Celtics vs. Pacers prediction: Indiana has shot to steal Game 1

Gordon Hayward

This included two wins over the fifth-seeded Pacers (48-34), who used the NBA's top scoring defense (104.7 points per game) to help overcome the loss of star Victor Oladipo to a season-ending knee injury.

While his team was able to recover from a dismal start, Stevens said the Pacers' defense deserved credit for making things hard on them throughout the game. "I just really want to be aggressive and really be the head of the snake".

The sellout crowd was amped-up for playoff basketball from tip-off, with each of Boston's first three baskets receiving fervent cheers.

Morris, who was recently bumped from the starting lineup in favor of center Aron Baynes, nearly singlehandedly kept the Celtics afloat by scoring 12 of their next 14 points. Morris finished the first with 12 points.

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"We just didn't make enough shots", Pacers forward Thaddeus Young said of the third. "Today, he did a really good job of being spaced and being able to knock down shots".

"We come out, any time in the game, runs can happen, anyone can come in and make an impact".

Much was made after the game about Boston's defense in the second half as a whole - especially that third quarter - after in forgot how to score.

The Pacers finished with 33.3/22.2/57.1 shooting splits - a combination of Boston's strong defense and Indiana's inability to create good offense.

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In his first playoff game as a Celtic, Irving became just third player in franchise history to have 20-plus points, five-plus assists and five-plus rebounds in his postseason debut with the team. "I'm just coming in trying to make an impact". The Celtics quickly made it 29-25, but the Pacers answered with six straight to lead 36-25 with 5:15 to go in the second. He lauded his teammate for his ability to rejuvenate the team after its sluggish start. The Celtics did fall 11 points behind early, but this game never felt entirely out of reach until it was Boston in control. Just the focus level on the game plan really comes to the ultimate level and we depend on each other that much more. "I appreciated that. I think we all did". First up, the Celtics get the benefit of playing a Pacers team without their best player. But it is going to take more than one middling performance against an overmatched opponent to prove that Boston is going to be a serious threat to emerge from the East - especially with Marcus Smart out of the picture for the foreseeable future.

"At the end of the day I'm a hooper, " Morris said.

None of it was spent dwelling on his reserve role, one that will likely stick for the remainder of the series as long as Baynes is healthy.

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