BSJ Game Report: Celtics 84, Pacers 74 – Best defensive effort of the season

(Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Everything you need to know about the Celtics beating the Pacers 84-74 with BSJ insight and analysis

Box Score


Celtics defense takes over in second half: After trailing by as many as 11 points in the first half, the Celtics looked to be on the verge of being the third straight Eastern Conference favorite to be upset in Game 1. The tide turn in the third quarter, however, as the hosts limited Indiana to just eight points in the third quarter and 21 total points in the second half on their way to a convincing 84-74 victory. Indiana's total marked the lowest scoring output by a Celtics opponent in the playoffs since Orlando scored 71 points in May 2010. The Pacers shot just 9 of 38 in the second half and 1 of 14 from 3-point range as Boston erased a seven-point halftime deficit and sealed a win by the midpoint of the fourth quarter. It was an encouraging effort with Jaylen Brown filling in for Marcus Smart in the starting five. Only two Pacers managed to crack double digits (Cory Joseph, Bojan Bogdanovic) in the defeat.

Celtics finds a way to win in an ugly offensive performance: While the Pacers were having trouble scoring the ball in the second half, life for the Celtics was not much easier for the better part of fourth quarters. The C’s scored the fewest points in a game in 2018-19 and had the second-most turnovers (20) in a game all year as they shot a season-low 36.4 percent from the field.

“It was hard, it wasn’t pretty, things went against us,” Brad Stevens said. “Even a couple of bounces went against us in the first half when they picked it up and hit the end of shot clock plays or put-back. You gotta stay together and you gotta grind it out. So there will be games where we hit a lot of shots and it will make us look better than we played. Today we played a little bit better than we looked, and we just have be a little bit better at owning our space."

Kyrie Irving and Marcus Morris both chipped in with a game-high 20 points, while Al Horford added a double-double with 10 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists.