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Boston Celtics

NBA Playoffs 2019: Four takeaways from the Boston Celtics' comeback win over the Indiana Pacers to take a 2-0 series lead

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(NBA Getty Images)

The Boston Celtics take a 2-0 series lead after clawing their way back against the Indiana Pacers to secure a 99-91 win at home.

Despite trailing 79-68 after three quarters, the Celtics found an extra gear down the stretch, holding the Pacers to just 12 fourth-quarter points.

Kyrie Irving led the way with 37 points on the night, while Jayson Tatum added 26, with the duo combining to shoot 56.5 percent for their 63 points.

With the series now shifting to Indiana for the next two games, here's four key takeaways from today's action...

Tatum takes over 4th quarter

Jayson Tatum brought on flashbacks from last year's playoffs with a superb fourth-quarter performance against the Pacers.

He scored 10 of his 26 points in the final frame, stamping his authority on the game with three key plays down the stretch.

After a Bogdan Bogdanovic three-pointer gave Indiana a late lead, Tatum went down the other end and put his team up two with 50.8 seconds left, draining this three-pointer from the corner.

On Boston's next posession, he put the ball on the floor and drove into the paint, camly picking out Gordon Hayward on the baseline for the easy layup to extend the lead to 94-91.

The Pacers had a chance to tie the game, but a mix up on the inbound saw Wes Matthews' pass sail out of bounds, leaving Tatum to shut down the game, with this two-handed jam.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens will take plenty of positives from the way Tatum went in search of the ball late in the game, espeically with the Pacers' defence zeroed in on Kyrie Irving.

Offence trends upwards

What a difference a game makes.

The Celtics and Pacers were ice cold from the field in Game 1, combining to score just 158 points, a mark the two teams eclipsed with 8:33 remaining in Game 2.

It didn't take long to see that this game would be a different story on the offensive end, as the Celtics led 13-12 just three minutes into the first quarter. Indiana would later go on a 13-0 run in the opening frame, taking a 33-29 lead into the second quarter. After one, the Pacers were shooting a red-hot 65% from the field while the Celtics shot 55%.

Things slowed down in the second, but an offensive outburst from Kyrie Irving propelled Boston to a 52-50 lead at the half.

As the second half got underway, all eyes were on the Pacers, who managed to score a playoff franchise-low of eight points in the third quarter of Game 1. For a moment, Indiana made that third-quarter letdown a distant memory, outscoring Boston 29-16 in the third quarter of Game 2 to take an 11-point lead into the fourth.

The fourth quarter was nearly a repeat of Indiana's wretched third quarter in Game 1. The Celtics went 12-for-23 in the final frame, outscoring the Pacers 31-12 to secure the 99-91 win.

While it was filled with ups and downs, the offence was much more present in Game 2 for both teams. Boston and Indiana combined to score 32 more points than they did in Game 1 while combining to shoot 76-for-165 (46.1%).

The Celtics and Pacers boast two of the league's top defences, meaning points could very well be at a premium throughout this first-round series. Game 2 showed that both teams have the ability to score in spurts, making things interesting in the grand scheme.

What is yet to be determined is whether or not a team will be able to score 100 this series.

Kyrie Irving in attack mode

There's not much you can do when Kyrie gets going like this.

From the jump, Irving was at his aggressive best, looking for his own shot, creating off the dribble and putting the Pacers defence under pressure with his dizzying ball handling.

Irving scored 18 points in the first half and after the Pacers made their push behind a 10-0 run in the third quarter, Irving responded again, scoring 10 points in the period, keeping the Celtics in the contest as the Pacers threatened to run away with things.

It was much of the same in the fourth as Boston went on a 16-3 run to take an 84-82 lead, with Irving feeling it from just about everywhere on the court.

The Pacers aren't really equipped to stop Irving and if he can continue this form on the road, they will have a tough time getting back into the series.

Winning the interior battle

As he dealt with an illness, Celtics centre Al Horford was a game-time decision, and clearly did not look to be his complete self in Game 2.

Still, despite not being at 100% physically, Horford managed to set the tone by making his presence felt, especially on the interior. He would finish the night with just four points but pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds, dished out four assists and blocked two shots.

The five-time All-Star was one of five Celtics to grab five or more rebounds: Jaylen Brown finished with nine, Kyrie Irving and Terry Rozier grabbed six and Gordon Hayward added five more rebounds as Boston outrebounded Indiana 48-36 on the night.

Rebounding is a harbinger of success for Boston, who was 28-6 this year when outrebounding its opponent. Conversely, Indiana was 18-23 when outrebounded this season.

In addition to the battle of the boards, the Celtics scored 48 points in the paint to the Pacers' 36, a testament to the interior presence and rim protection of Horford and Baynes as well as Kyrie Irving, who had two blocks on the night as well.

Indiana's Myles Turner had two very loud blocks on the night but managed to score just eight points. As the series shifts back to Indiana, the Pacers will need more from him on the offensive end as they seek their first win.

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