Round 1: Knockout!

Well well well…. after a tumultuous regular season, the Boston Celtics have finally woken up. It seems the best remedy for insurrection was the playoffs.  The 4th seeded Celtics drew the 5th seeded Indiana Pacers with their first round matchup…

4th Seeded Boston Celtics vs. 5th Seeded Indiana Pacers:

  • Regular season results:
    • Game #1, November 3, 2018. Pacers win 102-101
    • Game #2, January 9, 2019. Celtics win 135-108
    • Game #3, March 29, 2019. Celtics win 114-112
    • Game #4, April 5, 2019.  Celtics win 117-97
    • Season Series: Celtics 3 – Pacers 1

Boston Celtics v Indiana Pacers - Game Three

Game 1:

  • score: 84-74, Celtics lead series 1-0
  • player of the game: Marcus Morris (20 pts/ 5-12 fg/ 7 reb)
  • Boston Celtics v Indiana Pacers - Game Four
  • notes: Morris saved the game for the Celtics in the first half.  It seems funny to say this about a sweep, but looking back on his first half performance, “Mook” actually saved the series for the Celtics.  The C’s came out flat and were down 45-38 at the end of the first half. They looked scared of the moment. Then Morris came in… he hit a few FU shots with hands in his face, generally played like the dog that he is and kept the game close while his teammates got acclimated.  Despite the Celtics tentativeness on offense, they were tenacious on defense.  I was sure the C’s would take a step back with Marcus Smart out of the starting lineup but the addition of Baynes and Brown gave the Celtics a big, long group that stymied the Indiana offense at every turn.  The final score (84-74) is more indicative of a 90’s Knicks/Pacers game than the current NBA climate.  Nevertheless it was a good, gritty win that set the tone for the rest of the series.

Game 2:

  • score: 99-91, Celtics lead series 2-0
  • player of the game: Kyrie Irving (37 pts/ 15-26 fg/ 6-10 3p/ 7 assists)
  • Indiana Pacers v Boston Celtics - Game Two
  • notes: This was one of those games where Kyrie put the team on his back.  Celtics fans had seen this many times in the playoffs … unfortunately he was wearing a Cavs jersey for those.  This game though, this is ours.  Kyrie cooked and he cooked all night.  The only time he stopped was to let Jayson Tatum get a taste to the tune of 26 points.  The Brotherhood was alive and well for the Celtics tonight and this was a game where Indiana’s lack of talent really hurt it’s chances.  Tatum and Kyrie combined for 19 of the Celtics 31 4th quarter points in the Celtics comeback win.

Game 3:

  • score: 104-96, Celtics lead series 3-0
  • player of the game: Jaylen Brown (23 pts/ 8-9 fg/ 4-5 3p/ 7 reb)
  • Boston Celtics v Indiana Pacers - Game Three
  • notes: This was the “make or break” game for Indiana.  The C’s knew they would have to withstand the Pacers best shot if they were going to get back into the series and that the Indiana crowd would be loud and disruptive.  The Celtics responded.  It was a game of runs and instead of reverting to regular season form and letting the Pacers dictate how the game was played, the Celtics stomped the life out of them.  This was a “team win” through and through.  However, Jaylen Brown earned some individual praise.  Brown was aggressive all night and to be blunt, he played his ass off.  Jaythoven only missed one shot all night and he was everywhere on defense.

Game 4:

  • score: 110-106, Celtics win series 4-0
  • player of the game: Gordon Hayward (20 pts/ 7-9 fg/ 3-3 3p/ 2 stl)
  • Boston Celtics v Indiana Pacers - Game Four
  • notes: “It’s just the beginning” – Gordon Hayward.  I’ve watched and wrote about Hayward all year and at times, it’s been a rough go for the Celtics forward.  Early on he looked timid and uncomfortable.  He wasn’t aggressive and he didn’t trust his athleticism at all, causing him to make mistakes he seemingly would never have made in Utah. Coach Stevens continued to play him the same amount of minutes, good games and bad.  It was tough at times to watch but I gotta say, it was all worth it.  The Boston Celtics as a franchise are known for tough, elite 6th men who come in and change games; ie Frank Ramsey, John Havlicek and Kevin McHale.  The way Hayward played this series, makes me think he wants to add his name to that list.  Hayward controlled the Celtics 2nd unit offense in a way we’d only seen glimpses of throughout the year.  He initiated the offense, he finished through contact and he made all the right reads.  His continued domination of the opposing team’s second units has to continue in order for the Celtics to make good on their expectations and make it the NBA Finals.  Good thing it’s just the beginning.

Boston Celtics v Indiana Pacers - Game Three

Looking ahead….

1st Seeded Milwaukee Bucks vs. 4th Seeded Boston Celtics:

The Celtics are going to be playing the Milwaukee Bucks next round.  This terrifies me.  Giannis has looked like a man on a mission all season but the more troubling improvement the Bucks have made this season is at head coach: Mike Budenholzer.  “Coach Bud” is a tremendous upgrade to a squad that already took the Celtics to 7 games in round 1 of last year’s playoffs.  This season though, the C’s have Playoff Kyrie and a suddenly rejuvenated Hayward to add to their squad.  This is going to be entertaining as hell and I know America will be rooting against the Celtics and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Giannis is a great player, but I truly believe these Celtics are a great team. Now, the Celtics have to go out and prove it by beating the best player in the Eastern Conference on his home floor at least once.  The Indiana series proved to be a nice test for the C’s as they won in a variety of ways.  Milwaukee is going to be the toughest test the Celtics have faced all season and they will have to use all the lessons learned from last series and the regular season to come away on top.

  • Regular season results:
    • Game #1, November 1, 2018, Celtics win 117-113
    • Game #2, December 21, 2018, Bucks win 120-107
    • Game #3, February 21, 2019, Bucks win 98-97
    • Season series: Celtics 1 – Bucks 2

Series Prediction: Celtics in 6

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