Celtics turn up the offense, defense to pull away for Game 1 win over Pacers

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BOSTON -- It’s hard to say whether the Boston Celtics flipped a switch or just got hot when they needed to.

But the way they pulled away for an 84-74 Game 1 win over Indiana gave Celtics Nation a glimpse into how this team can get jacuzzi-hot at both ends of the floor at any time.

After a sluggish first half that saw them fall behind by double digits, Boston turned up the heat at both ends of the floor and pulled away for the victory.

There were so many different players who stepped up at critical moments for Boston to not only get the win, but maintain home court advantage in the best-of-seven series.

Here’s a look at some of the Game 1 standouts.

MVP

Al Horford

There were others who scored more points, but no one impacted the game at both ends of the floor at as elite a level as Horford did. He would finish with a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds with a large chunk of his scoring coming in a critical stretch in the third quarter.

Most Improved

Kyrie Irving

He is the best player on the floor, but you would not have known that by the way he struggled at both ends in the first half. But the second half, totally different story. Irving delivered his usual spell-bounding, ankle-breaking handles leading to good shots for both him and his teammates. He would tally 20 points to go with seven assists and five rebounds.

Sixth Man

Marcus Morris

A strong case could be made for Marcus Morris being the MVP of this game, especially the way he carried the Celtics in the first quarter when he scored 12 of his 20 points off the bench - tops among all reserves, in addition to grabbing seven rebounds.

Unsung hero

Aron Baynes

This was such an Aron Baynes-like game, with him doing his usual patrolling-the-paint job defensively while making an impact on the glass. He had just two points but grabbed nine rebounds and did a really good job of making life tough for the Pacers’ bigs as well as their guards who tried to score driving to the paint.

Turning point

In the third quarter, Al Horford scored five straight including a 3-point play to time the game at 45. Boston would score four more points as part of an 11-0 run by the Celtics that set into motion their control of the game.

High Impact Stat

Indiana's Bojan Bogdanovic came into this series averaging 4.5 points less per game against Boston than he did for the season. The trend continues for the Celtics who limited him to just 12 points on 4-for-11 shooting which is six points below his season average. Keep in mind, a large chunk of those points came after Boston had gone up by 22 points and had emptied the bench.

What’s next: Boston will host the Indiana Pacers for Game 2 on Wednesday at the TD Garden.

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