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Boston Celtics

NBA Playoffs 2019: Four takeaways from the Boston Celtics' comeback Game 1 win over Indiana Pacers

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Marcus Morris [NBA Getty Images]

The Boston Celtics have taken Game 1 over the Indiana Pacers 84-74.

This ugly, defensive battle was turned on it's head in the third quarter - the Pacers led by seven points at the half but when the Celtics held them to just eight points in the third, they turned that deficit into an 11-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Kyrie Irving and Marcus Morris led the way with 20 points each, while the Pacers only had two players (Bojan Bogdanovic, Cory Joseph) reach double figures in the contest.

For more on the Celtics' Game 1 win, we have you covered with takeaways below...

Morris' first half

Marcus Morris' start to the season had him lined up for the best offensive year of his career. When he couldn't sustain that pace and began to struggle in the second half of the season, he was moved to the bench by head coach Brad Stevens.

He shot 37.8 percent from the field and 30.0 percent from 3-point range post-All-Star break, failing to find any sort of rhythm.

With the energy he came off the bench with in Game 1, you would have never been able to tell that he was having trouble finding his shot.

Morris scored 12 points in his six minutes off the bench in the first quarter, shooting 3-for-4 from the field and 2-for-3 from 3-point land. He was diving on the floor for loose balls, coming up with stops on defence and bringing the intensity and playoff atmosphere to the game.

He went into the half with 15 points and two rebounds, breathing life into the otherwise lifeless Celtics' offence.

Morris finished with a team-high 20 points (tied with Irving) to go with seven boards in 30 valuable minutes off the bench.

The Third Quarter

It's when the momentum swung in Boston's favour.

At the half, the Celtics trailed by seven points, but they turned in a dominant defensive performance in the third frame to take control of the game. Indiana shot just 2-for-19 (10.5%) from the field in the third and sank four free throws to score a total of eight points in the quarter - a new franchise playoff low.

In addition to their poor shooting, the Pacers turned the ball over five times in the frame which further limited their opportunities to make anything happen on the offensive end.

Head coach Brad Stevens said the biggest factor in Boston's defensive performance was the team doing "a better job protecting the paint."

Kyrie Irving matched the Pacers' third-quarter output himself, scoring eight of the Celtics' 26 points in the frame as they would go into the fourth quarter with an 11-point lead. The C's All-Star guard added three assists in the frame that led to seven more points; Boston becomes much more dangerous when Irving gets everyone involved.

Stevens credited his team's ball movement as the reason for the surge, stating that the key to this game - and series - is that "the ball can't stick." Expect the Celtics to continue to focus on ball movement as the series progresses.

Indiana's inconsistent offence

When Victor Oladipo was announced out for the season back in January the biggest question surrounding the Pacers was where their offence would come from.

Bojan Bogdanovic took over the lead scoring role for the remainder of the regular season, but he had only averaged 13.5 points per game versus the Celtics in their four regular-season meetings and if that continued, they'd have to find scoring from elsewhere.

Bogdanovic scored 12 points in the contest, joining Cory Joseph (14 points) as the only two Pacers' players to reach double figures.

Their next leading scorers? Tyreke Evans and Wesley Matthews with eight points apiece.

Boston has a number of options who can score the basketball. They had five players reach double figures in Game 1 while both Irving and Morris reached the 20-point mark.

We knew going into this series that the Pacers were an elite defensive team but if they're going to have a chance against the Celtics, they're going to have to find a consistent scoring option and fast.

A defensive struggle

It shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that defence would be at the forefront of a series that features the Pacers, who this season boasted the league's No. 3 rated defence and the Celtics, whose defence was rated sixth in the 2018-19 regular season.

Boston won 49 games this past season thanks in part to its defence, but the team also scored over 100 points in each of its wins - the fewest points the Celtics scored in a win was on Oct. 25, 2018, when they finished with 101 against the Thunder

In Game 1, Boston scored just 84 points (a new season low) and still managed to earn a double-digit win.

Indiana's 74 points were also a season-low and were the fewest points scored by a Boston opponent all year. The teams combined to shoot 56-for-161 (37.1%) from the field with each team hitting 28 field goals apiece; the Celtics advantage came from beyond the arc, where they sank four more triples than their opponent.

Based on each team's defensive resume, this series could very well shape to be a defensive grind for its entirety.

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