2019 NBA Playoffs: Celtics sweep the Pacers

NBA Playoff results: April 22, 2019

4. Boston Celtics (110) – 5. Indiana Pacers (106)

1. Golden State Warriors (113) – 8. LA Clippers (105)

2. Toronto Raptors (107) – 7. Orlando Magic (85)

3. Portland Trail Blazers (111) – 6. OKC Thunder (98)

What happened in the Playoffs today:

1. Boston is the first to advance

The Pacers just didn’t have enough firepower.

This series was supposed to be an entertaining battle between a preseason favorite that turned into a problematic team and an underrated but cohesive unit. The Celtics always had the firepower to be one of the best teams in the league. But they only figured out how to put it all together in the post season. The Pacers never had the star power their opponents had. They had even less after Victor Oladipo’s injury. But throughout the season, they made it work.

Unfortunately, they just really didn’t have enough in the cupboard to do battle with a peaking Boston team. They gave it their best in the four games of the series but there was always one key stretch in the game where Boston would shut them down or pour on the points to pull away for the win.

In Game 4, it came late in the fourth period. Tyreke Evans drove to the hoop for the layup to give the Pacers a two-point lead, their last lead of the game and eventually, the series. Jayson Tatum and Al Horford started the run innocently with free throws to give the Celtics the lead. Then Marcus Morris and Gordon Hayward nailed a three-pointer each to increase the lead to eight. Morris and Hayward added another three-point flurry and the game was done. Boston was up by 10 with a minute left on the clock.

Kyrie Irving, Al Horford and Jayson Tatum did their thing. Irving had 14 points and seven assists, Horford also had 14 with 12 rebounds while Tatum added 18 and eight boards. The biggest thing the Celtics can take away from this game and from the series has been the play of Hayward.

In this game, Hayward showed that he can still take over games. He was crucial during the fourth quarter run where his basketball IQ really took center stage. He couldn’t overwhelm the defense with his speed or athleticism so he focused on attacking when the defense was imbalanced.

Game 4 Gordon Hayward is what Boston will need moving forward if they hope to advance past the Bucks, Raptors or Sixers and compete with the likes of the Warriors.

2. Dame lets his game do the talking

After a very petty Game 3 between both teams, everyone expected a war, myself included. But Instead of engaging in an emotional battle, the Blazers came out in Game 4 with a clear, business-like approach. They didn’t allow themselves to get sucked into a taunting battle with the Thunder.

This was most evident with Lillard who led the Blazers in the third quarter. He was calm and collected during the crucial stretch after the half. But that’s the thing about assassins, they take their shots in silence.

He nailed three treys in an 13-3 run that gave Portland a double-digit lead. He capped the run with a steal and break away dunk to put the Blazers up by 14. Lillard got back at everyone who taunted and assaulted him in the first three games. He nailed a trey on Steven Adams’ face, picked the ball away from Russell Westbrook and hit a tough, hanging jumper over Dennis Shcroder. He did all of that without rocking a single baby.

The Blazers are now one win away from advancing to the second round. The Thunder are focused on playing mind games in this series. The Blazers, after an early vacation last season, are focused on basketball.

3. Durant is done playing around

In the first two games, Kevin Durant took part in a less-than-playful game with Clippers defender Patrick Beverley. After their surprising Game 2 loss, the Clippers naturally took pride in how they were able to limit Durant in the first two games.

Since then, Kevin Durant has been on fire. He dropped 38 points on 60% shooting in Game 3 and added another 33 points on 57% shooting in Game 4. He was a steadying force for the Thunder all game long.

Klay Thompson had a hot start, helping propel the Warriors ahead by double-digits in the first half. Steph Curry steadied the ship after the Clippers hung tough in the third period. But it was Durant’s game-long brilliance that was the difference-maker in the game.

The Warriors now look to eliminate the Clippers in Game 5. That will put an embarrassing loss behind them as the move forward to the next round.

Photo from Getty Images