NBA 2018-19: Boston Celtics sweep the Indiana Pacers in the 1st round of playoffs
Just like the previous 3 games, the Celtics turned up the intensity on both ends of the floor towards the end of the game to clinch the encounter and the series. They now await the winner of the Milwaukee Bucks-Detroit Pistons series (Milwaukee lead 3-0).
Boston started off with a bang, going on an 8-0 run, only to bettered by the Pacers, who went on a 13-0 run of their own. After the exciting start, the 1st quarter ended more or less evenly, with the Pacers leading 23-21.
Both teams were dead even in the second quarter with 26 points each, and Indiana held on to their slim lead at halftime.
In the second half, Boston's playoff mentality was on full display. As seen throughout the series, they dominated the 4th quarter with some clutch plays by Jayson Tatum and Gordon Hayward.
The Pacers eventually had a scoring surge towards the end spearheaded by Tyreke Evans, but it was too little too late.
Hayward had his best game of the series in his hometown (he grew up in Indianapolis), with 20 points on 7 of 9 shooting including a couple of clutch 3 pointers late in the fourth quarter. He also had 2 steals and a block.
Jayson Tatum had 18 points and 8 rebounds while Al Horford chipped in with yet another double-double with 14 points, 12 rebounds and 5 assists. Kyrie Irving had a lackluster night, scoring only 14 points on 4 of 13 shooting.
For the Pacers, Bojan Bogdanović and Tyreke Evans scored 22 and 21 points respectively.
The Celtics showed their unbelievable depth, with the bench having exactly double the field goal percentage than that of the starters. They showed that if Irving has an off night, the rest of team has the capability to close out important games like this one, which is a good sign going forward.
As a team, they shot 46.2% from the field to Indiana's 40.9%, and made big shots in the last few minutes.
The Boston Celtics have showed up in the playoffs and played like the team which nearly reached the NBA Finals last year without Irving and Hayward. If they improve on the deficiencies they showed in the series, I expect them to meet the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals.