The Celtics have reason to believe they can turn this series around. The team needs to crash the boards to compete, but it also must do a better job creating contact and drawing fouls.
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Boston has reached the line 19 times in each of the first two games, four below its season average, and is converting at the line at a dismal 65.8 percent. The Celtics were third in the NBA during the regular season at 80.7 percent.
You can’t blame the lack of attempts on Isaiah Thomas, as the star point guard has accounted for nearly two-thirds of the Celtics’ trips to the line, but he does need to convert at a higher rate than 68 percent (17 of 25). Also, Boston needs to see fewer 3-point attempts from Marcus Smart. Though he knocked down 3 of 7 in Game 1, the 29 percent deep-ball shooter came back to Earth in Game 2, missing three of his four attempts.
But the Cavs came out playing tough defense in the second half, holding the Pacers to only 17 points in the third quarter. At the other end, LeBron James stepped up with 13 points in the quarter as Cleveland cut the Pacers’ lead to 91-84 heading into the fourth.
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By then, you could sense the Pacers’ desperation, as the 3 balls that fell in the first half clanged in the second.
James led the way with 41 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists, but Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, J.R. Smith and Channing Frye all had 13 points, and Kyle Korver (4-of-5 from 3-point range) added 12.
LeBron James (see above). Oh, he also passed Kobe Bryant for third on the NBA’s all-time playoff scoring list during the game.