Biggest takeaways from Game 2 between Celtics and Pacers

The Boston Celtics defended dwelling courtroom definitively, grabbing Recreation 2 in opposition to the Indiana Pacers within the Japanese Convention finals Thursday night time — the primary time they have been up 2-0 this postseason.

Led by Jaylen Brown matching his playoff profession excessive with 40 factors, the Celtics’ dominant offense proved an excessive amount of for the Pacers, who allowed a 20-0 run within the first half, giving Boston the lead for good.

Regardless of Pascal Siakam’s scorching hand within the third quarter — he led his staff with 28 factors and 5 rebounds — the Pacers struggled with out Tyrese Haliburton, who had simply 10 factors and eight assists earlier than leaving within the third quarter due to a sore left hamstring.

The sequence will proceed in Indiana for Saturday’s Recreation 3 (8:30 p.m. ET, ABC) and Monday’s Recreation 4 (8 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN2).

After a dominant displaying by the Celtics in TD Backyard, our NBA insiders break down the largest moments in Recreation 2, what the Pacers have to do to bounce again in Indiana and what the upcoming return of heart Kristaps Porzingis, out due to a calf pressure since April 30, means for this sequence and probably the Finals.

1. What’s your largest takeaway from Recreation 2?

Jamal Collier: Letting Recreation 1 slip away hurts much more for Indiana now. The Pacers entered the sequence as heavy underdogs however had a golden alternative to win the opening sport of the sequence. It will have given them some respiratory room as they return to Indy with Haliburton’s standing up within the air. Now Indiana has to play with a heightened sense of urgency in Recreation 3 to save lots of its season, and it is perhaps with out its All-NBA level guard at 100%.

Tim Bontemps: The Celtics should take benefit and shut out this sequence rapidly. Boston has put itself in troublesome spots in latest playoffs by dragging out sequence, however after taking part in back-to-back five-game units to open these playoffs, the East’s high seed is inside putting distance of securing one other fast exit for its opponent. The Western Convention finals between the Dallas Mavericks and Minnesota Timberwolves appears to be like prefer it might be an extended, troublesome sequence, so if Boston can get per week off, it can give itself the absolute best likelihood to boost Banner 18.

Kevin Pelton: I am most intrigued by Boston turning to 6-foot-7 Oshae Brissett as an undersized heart after Luke Kornet left the sport due to a left wrist sprain. Hopefully for the Celtics, this would possibly not be a problem for lengthy with Kristaps Porzingis on monitor to return. For now, Brissett’s potential to defend a number of positions provides coach Joe Mazzulla extra choices for switching pick-and-rolls. Boston began him on Haliburton at instances, giving the Celtics the flexibility to modify with out placing a smaller defender on the screener. Boston ended up outscoring Indiana by 18 factors in Brissett’s 12 minutes. The Celtics actually cannot rely on that stage of success going ahead, however Brissett stepped up in a key spot in opposition to his former staff.

2. Greatest key for Indiana to get again into this sequence?

Pelton: Haliburton’s well being. If Haliburton is not the power he was throughout Indiana’s 4 wins over the New York Knicks within the East semifinals, and in Recreation 1 of this sequence, the Pacers have little hope of producing sufficient offense to maintain up with the Celtics. Proper now, every part else is secondary to that for Indiana.

Collier: Past Haliburton’s well being, the Pacers hope returning dwelling can present them with the identical enhance it has all postseason (the place they’re 6-0) and a few recent legs. Pacers coach Rick Carlisle acknowledged he noticed some drained legs on the finish of Recreation 2 after taking part in three highway video games in 5 days, which is why Siakam and Aaron Nesmith didn’t play a lot throughout the fourth quarter. Getting wholesome and again to operating up and down the ground shall be key for the Pacers to get again within the sequence.

Bontemps: Pelton summed this one up. If Haliburton is not wholesome, and nowhere close to the extent he has performed at throughout his previous eight playoff video games, this sequence won’t make it to a Recreation 5.

3. Reality or fiction: Celtics ought to maintain out Porzingis till the Finals

Collier: Fiction. If he is wholesome and may get on the courtroom earlier than the top of this sequence, it is price getting him some sport motion earlier than the Finals. That would not solely assist him get amassed to taking part in once more, but additionally assist the remainder of the Celtics and get him reintegrated into the staff’s playstyle.

Pelton: Fiction. Though Boston actually should not rush Porzingis again primarily based on the sequence to date, I believe it might be useful to get him some sport motion previous to the Finals if his restoration is on schedule for Recreation 4, as reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

By Recreation 1 of the Finals on June 6, Porzingis could have been out greater than 5 weeks. Simply three gamers since 1997 have returned within the Finals after longer absences, per my analysis: Jameer Nelson (out all playoffs) in 2009, DeMarcus Cousins in 2019 and Andre Iguodala in 2022. None of these gamers averaged greater than 18 minutes per sport within the sequence. The Celtics will need Porzingis prepared for a a lot bigger position than that.

Bontemps: Fiction. The aim for the Celtics has at all times been to get Porzingis again sooner or later throughout this sequence. If he does make it again and will get a handful of minutes — presumably in these probably vacated due to Kornet’s wrist harm — the 7-foot-3 huge man will be capable to get his legs beneath him once more in a sport setting forward of a possible Finals berth. Easing him in earlier than this spherical is over, whereas additionally having fun with a snug sequence lead, can be the most effective final result for the Celtics.