The Celtics played 23 games in the roller-coaster months of March and February, a stretch in which they beat the Golden State Warriors but also lost four straight games at one point and fell to the lowly Chicago Bulls. During those 23 games, they held their opponent to under 100 points just five times.
Not only did the Celtics hold their opponent under the century mark in their first playoff game of 2019, but Indiana was only able to muster 74 points against the C’s in a slugfest of a Game 1. It was the best defensive effort of the season for the Celtics in terms of points allowed, and just the second time since the start of the season this past October that Boston has held an opponent to under 80 points.
In other words, it appears that a switch has indeed been flipped by the Celtics — at least on the defensive end.
“I think that’s playoff basketball. It starts on the defensive end,” Celtics center Aron Baynes told Celtics.com. “You saw how physical it was out there on both ends. It’s about going out there and valuing every possession. You can’t take your foot off the gas.”
Make no mistake, it surely helps that the Pacers are one of the weakest offensive teams in the league, having ranked 22nd in points per game this season. But for the Celtics to win in the postseason, they will need to win plenty of ugly basketball games.
The C’s will look to go up 2-0 on Indiana tomorrow night at the Garden (7 p.m., NBC Sports Boston).