Boston Celtics crank up defense to lock down Indiana Pacers for Game 1 win

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TThe Boston Celtics held the visiting Indiana Pacers without a field goal for the first eight-and-a-half minutes of the second half on Sunday, rallying from a half-time deficit to take an 84-74 victory in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series.

After failing to make even one-third of their shots in the first half while falling behind 45-38, the fourth-seeded Celtics became a defensive force in the third quarter.

The Pacers, seeded fifth in the East, missed their first seven shots of the second half and mixed in three turnovers as their seven-point lead turned into a 47-45 deficit before Myles Turner hit one of two free throws with 7:02 left in the period.

Indiana then missed two more shots before Cory Joseph connected on two foul shots at the 5:27 mark. By then, the Celtics scored 15 of the quarter’s first 16 points to go ahead 53-46.

After two more turnovers and two more missed shots, making the Pacers 0-for-11 at that point with five turnovers, Joseph finally dropped in a lay-up with 3:28 left in the period for Indiana’s first basket of the half.

By that time, Boston had gone ahead 60-48.

Indiana made just one more basket in the quarter – a lay-up by Doug McDermott – and finished the period with just eight points, getting outscored 26-8.

When Terry Rozier bombed in a 27-footer in the final second of the quarter, the Celtics took a 64-53 lead to the fourth period and never looked back.

The Pacers were never got the deficit under double digits in the fourth quarter.

Kyrie Irving and Marcus Morris scored 20 points apiece for Boston, who won handily despite shooting just 36.4 per cent.

Al Horford recorded a 10-point, 11-rebound double-double for the Celtics, while Jayson Tatum chipped in with 15 points and Gordon Hayward had 10.

Joseph finished with 14 points and Bojan Bogdanovic 12 for Indiana, who shot 33.3 per cent for the game overall. The Pacers also made just six of their 27 three-point attempts.

The 74-point total was a full 15 below Indiana’s regular-season low of 89, done three times.

The 74 points allowed were three fewer than the Celtics gave up to Chicago in their regular-season low. Meanwhile, the win was the Celtics’ first all season in 10 games when they scored fewer than 100 points.

Game 2 takes place in Boston late on Wednesday night (midnight).

(c) Sky News 2019: Boston Celtics crank up defense to lock down Indiana Pacers for Game 1 win

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