A mix of leftover observations and analysis in the wake of the Celtics’ Game 1 win over the Pacers on Sunday afternoon.
1. Handing out credit to the Celtics backcourt for defense: The Celtics' guards had a tall task on their hands in Game 1, trying to make up for the absence of Marcus Smart to corral a mix of speed and shooting within the Pacers backcourt. After some rough spots in the first half, pretty much everyone was up to the task, particularly after the break, although the effort was pretty consistent all day long.
Kyrie Irving deserves credit for battling well against Wesley Matthews in the post all day long, limiting him to just 3-of-10 shooting, while drawing a steal and an offensive foul. Irving has had a target on his back with past matchups with the Pacers but his grit was consistent throughout this matchup despite an off-shooting night for him.
Brown, Tatum and Hayward teamed up well on Bojandovic all afternoon, limiting him to 1-of-7 shooting collectively while covering him for over 85 percent of the possessions he was on the floor. Perhaps, the most important number there was the fact that he only managed to get up seven shots total in those stints. Brown beat him to the spot on a couple times for dribble handoffs and was not given him any easy rim runs for most of the day. The same was true for Tatum with Bogdanovic and Doug McDermott. If the Celtics can continue to keep these shooters and Indy’s other guards from getting inside the paint and the creases of the defense, it’s going to be hard for them to keep pace with the C’s offensive firepower.
2. The Celtics need to find Al Horford more in the post: During one of the C’s worst offensive performances of the year, it was fitting to a degree that one of their most efficient scorers ranked fifth on the team in field goal attempts (10). Horford missed his fair share of wide open 3s, but it felt like Boston really underutilized him, particularly in potential postups. He feasted on Thaddeus Young and other smaller defenders on his opportunities in the second half and that appears to be an area Brad Stevens wants to key in on ahead of Game 2.