After an up and down season from the Celtics the playoffs are here. It took longer than expected for this group to mesh because of the uncommon circumstances by which this 2018-2019 roster took shape. It seems as though they may be playing at their best going into the playoffs.
Gordon Hayward seems to have finally cleared that last mental hurdle after coming back from multiple procedures on that gruesome injury, he’s finally comfortable driving to the basket for layups and dunks. His shooting percentages have gone up each month this season after a rough December. Being a vital part to the bench unit, Hayward is peaking this season at the right time. Same could be said for Aron Baynes, as he closed out the season playing very well in the starting lineup alongside Al Horford whose been playing well all year, especially post all-star break. The Pacers have some good, young and versatile big men. Baynes will probably continue to start to match up with Myles Turner while Horford gets Thaddeus Young.
With Marcus going down for this series and probably the next series if the Celtics move on, Jaylen Brown will probably shift into the starting lineup. He, among many, had a great playoff run last year and he’ll need to be locked in again this year. Him and Tatum will probably serve as the main defenders for Pacers scoring leader, Bojan Bogdanovic. If Jaylen can also continue to be aggressive offensively alongside Kyrie and Tatum it will be a huge boost for the Celtics.
The bench unit will be vital to the Celtics as the Pacers are also a deep team. After a disappointing season for Terry Rozier and a disappointing second half from Marcus Morris these two will be vital to providing the all-around spark off the bench alongside Hayward. Being able to keep ball movement a main priority with these two will be key because they tend to get the ball and want to shoot it without trying to get a better shot for a teammate.
Last but certainly not least is Kyrie Irving. After some stellar and clutch playoff runs with Cleveland, Kyrie is getting into his first playoff series with Boston and after a career year for Irving, more of the same seems to be in line. The Pacers have been a top defensive team, but Irving has still had some good nights as a scorer and a playmaker. He has also had an under the radar defensive season, making many hustle plays, putting his body on the line and getting steals. Irving prides himself on stepping up during the playoffs and in big moments, so he will be the key to the Celtics success.
It will probably be a battle between two well rounded teams, but the Celtics did win the season series 3 games to 1, almost a sweep if not for Pacers (now injured) star Victor Oladipo. So, maybe Brad Stevens sees something or knows something that we don’t, would surprise me. Stevens always manages to have the Celtics in competitive playoff games and playoff series, and I don’t expect anything different. Celtics win in 5 or 6 games.