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Pacers Keys to A Game One Upset Over the Celtics

Tyrese Haliburton's play will be crucial for the Pacers to pull off a Game 1 upset.

After beating the New York Knicks on Sunday afternoon in game seven at Madison Square Garden, the Indiana Pacers now have a date with the Boston Celtics tonight in game one of the 2024 Eastern Conference Finals. On paper, the Celtics have the talent and experience advantage. However, they are facing a Pacers squad that is coming off of their best offensive performance of the playoffs. Also, Indiana has been able to adapt to their playoff surroundings. Boston would not be the first team with finals expectations to lose to Indy in a playoff series this year.

Pacers Keys to A Game One Upset Over the Celtics

Key One: Pacers Bench Must Continue To Be Dominant

One of Indiana’s biggest strengths is its second unit. In their series against the Knicks, it was the play of their second unit that kept them afloat in that matchup. Additionally, the Pacers bench dominated the depleted Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the 2024 NBA Playoffs. Notably, the Pacers rank first in bench points during the playoffs and in the regular season. If the Pacers role players can continue being dominant on both sides of the ball, Indiana is in a great position to steal this game from the Celtics.

T.J. McConnell’s ability to attack the paint and hit mid-range shots. Has made him one of the biggest bench x-factors in every series Indiana has been in. Also, McConnell is a crafty player who never plays at the pace the opposing defenders want him to play at. He takes his time to get to his spot on the court and usually makes the correct play. If McConnell who dominated the Knicks series continues his stellar play Boston will have a tough time containing their explosive offense.

Key Two: Pacers Have to Contain Tatum and Brown

The Boston Celtics will be the best team Indiana has faced during this playoff run. They offer them a unique challenge. As they are the first mostly healthy team, Indiana will face this postseason run. If the Pacers intend to slow down Boston’s explosive offense, they will need to contain the duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. That is easier said than done as both players have had a great postseason so far. Especially for the league’s 24th-ranked defense.

Indiana will have to rely on their length advantage to force Tatum and Brown into difficult shots. Aaron Nesmith and Pascal Siakam will be particularly important for the Pacers. Also, if they can take the free throw line and paint touches away from them it will limit Boston’s effectiveness to an extent. Both players are superstars so they will get their points. However, if they can keep their combined point total to 40 points or less of Boston’s final scoring output. The Pacers will be able to steal this game from the Celtics.

Key Three: Tyrese Haliburton Must Be The Best Player On The Floor

For the Pacers to win game one tonight, they will need Tyrese Haliburton to be the best player on the floor. Additionally, Haliburton will have to play aggressively against Jrue Holiday and Derrick White. Two of the best defenders the Celtics have on their roster. Also, against them, he cannot settle for contested three-pointers and mid-range jump shots. He has to attack them and get to the free-throw line. Or create a high-percentage scoring opportunity for his teammates. He is one of the best passers in the league and needs to use that to his advantage to make Boston play for giving him too much defensive attention.

It is a series like this where superstars are created. If he wants to be a superstar in the league, he needs to perform like one against the Celtics. That starts tonight with being the best player on the floor and outperforming Tatum and Brown on both sides of the ball. If he can do that the Pacers will win this game tonight and might even be able to beat Boston in this series.


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