Five Thoughts: Boston Celtics vs. Indiana Pacers
Winslow Townson/AP Photo
The Boston Celtics have taken a commanding 3 - 0 series lead over the Indiana Pacers, and here are five thoughts following Game 3.
1. The Boston Celtics just aren’t that good.
Now, I know that may seem like I’m being a hater or a salty Pacers fan, but think about it. They win 84-74 in Game 1, 99-91 in Game 2, and 104-96 in Game 3. Not to mention in Game 3, 41 of those 104 points came in the first quarter alone. Kyrie Irving has been stellar and Jayson Tatum is playing his best basketball of the year in the Playoffs, but only against a team lacking a dominant offensive threat; they are squeaking by. It still just feels like they haven’t clicked, but they have the most talent in this series.
2. The Indiana Pacers, as simple as it gets, are missing their closer and best player.
This is a team that truly rallied following Victor Oladipo's season-ending injury, and they deserve a ton of credit for how hard they play night in and night out. However, that’s just not enough in the Playoffs. Once again in Game 3, the Pacers had what I like to call a “Turd quarter”. After leading by two at halftime, the Pacers came out for the third period and were ice-cold (5/21 Field Goals). These are the moments where you wish you had a player as gifted as Oladipo, someone who can go out and get you a bucket.
3. Kyrie Irving is by far the best player in this series.
The single fact the Celtics have Irving on their side will at least give them a chance to win just about any game. There is a battle between Russell Westbrook and Damian Lillard taking place out West, which has many debating who’s the second-best point guard in the NBA. That player isn’t in that series; he’s in the East and it’s Kyrie. As I mentioned in thought one, the Celtics are struggling to score but Kyrie isn’t. The best defense in the NBA has had no answers for Uncle Drew, and they aren’t going to find one. Thus far in the 2019 NBA Playoffs, Irving is averaging 25.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 8.0 apg, and 1.3 spg on shooting splits of 45/50/90. Lord have mercy, that’s a bad man.
4. The Indiana Pacers shouldn’t bring back Bojan Bogdanovic.
Felt weird saying that. Bogey has been the best offensive weapon for the Pacers since the Oladipo injury, not debating it. However, despite his career-best shooting splits of 49/42/80, he’s just not a guy who I feel can be a second offensive option. He can certainly fill the role and be that guy. But he's soon turning 30 and a likely to demand a 4-year, $15 million per season contract. No thanks, I’m full. Of course, if he’s willing to take a discount, let’s say $10 million, I may reconsider.
5. Myles Turner.
Defensively I have zero complaints; this guy protects the rim better than most, if not everyone in the NBA. He led the league this season in blocks per game (2.7) and overall blocks (199). Not to mention we’ve seen Rudy Gobert get picked apart and exposed by James Harden and the Houston Rockets, I think Myles Turner is a far better perimeter defender as well. Kyrie Irving has already spoken in this series about the fact that Turner is a force everywhere on the defensive end. Yet, when we look at him on the offensive end, there’s a lot to be desired.
Maybe he simply will never be a force in scoring; maybe he lacks aggressiveness. Or perhaps it’s a negative reflection on Nate McMillian not giving Turner enough sets/touches. Through three games, Turner is averaging just 8.7 ppg on 7.7 shots, compared to the regular season where he averaged 13.3 ppg on 10.5 shots. Now, the Celtics defense and Al Horford deserve credit, but this just doesn’t make sense to me. When you take into account the Pacers' offensive struggles and the droughts they’ve had throughout this series, why not look to give Turner more opportunities? I think it’s a failure in the game plan to not have more pick-and-pops ran. I will say it was encouraging to see him take multiple looks from deep in Game 3, even if they didn’t fall.