How Jaylen Brown led Celtics to 2-0 series win over Pacers in Eastern Conference Finals: 4 takeaways

Eric Nehm, Jay King, Jared Weiss, James Boyd and Hunter Patterson

Jaylen Brown tied his playoff career high with 40 points, five rebounds and two assists to lead the Boston Celtics to a 126-110 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Thursday. Brown, Derrick White (23) and Jayson Tatum (23) scored 86 of Boston’s 126 points as the Celtics now lead the series 2-0.

Pascal Siakam led the Pacers with 28 points, five rebounds and two assists, and Tyrus Halliburton left in the fourth quarter with a sore left leg after 28 minutes of action. Indiana shot 52.4 percent from the field and 37.9 percent from 3-point range, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Boston, which shot 53.4 percent and 40.5 percent from 3.

The Pacers now return to Indiana without a series win, although they started the last round against the New York Knicks in a two-game hole before winning the series in seven games.

Boston has lost just two games during these playoffs, and no streak has lasted past five games.

Game 3 at Indiana is Saturday at 8:30 p.m.

Boston taps health

The Celtics are often viewed as a neat team, but their size and physicality took a toll in Game 2. They tallied 13 offensive rebounds, including 10 in the first half. They outscored the Pacers 54-34 in the paint and 18-13 in second-chance points.

Knack in Boston has long spent as much time as the team on the perimeter, sometimes at the expense of pressuring the rim, but the Celtics mostly played inside-out in this one. In this series, they should. Celtic guards are great. Their wings are large.

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They have a significant muscle advantage at many positions in the series, especially on the perimeter. They capitalized on that in Game 2. Brown went down again and again. Jrue Holiday and White, protected by Indiana’s small backcourt, were both able to create big, efficient stat lines.

With Brown at the helm, the Celtics can get anywhere on the court they want. Boston ran away with Game 2 as the Pacers couldn’t get any stops.

The Pacers will need to do a better job of providing resistance against the physicality of the Celtics to make this a series in Indiana. Halliburton’s injury status is also a big factor. – Jay King, Celtics beat writer

The Celtics control the chaos

The Pacers offense was chaotic, forcing the Celtics defense to make countless reads and decisions throughout the night. It took some time for Boston to adjust, but the Celtics seemed to have control over the chaos in Game 2.

Halliburton’s injury took the wind out of Indiana’s sails, but the Celtics rarely seemed to fight back to keep the Pacers running.

Brown had electric scoring off the ball, but it was the playmaking of Holiday and White that kept Boston’s offense flowing when Brown wasn’t making smart shots. As the series continues, it’s becoming clear that Boston can rely on its guards to keep the offense going all night long.

The second unit was no slouch defensively as Oshe Brissett gave some solid minutes to the injured Luke Cornett. If Boston’s bench can hold up well, the Celtics will be in great shape heading back to Indianapolis. – Jared Weiss, Celtics beat writer

Indiana falls prey to the usual shortcomings

Going up against the league’s best team, the Pacers knew they had to be nearly perfect to somehow upset the Celtics and advance to the NBA Finals. On Thursday, the Pacers were far from perfect and made mistakes that usually don’t occur in the postseason.

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In the first half, the Celtics grabbed 10 offensive rebounds and scored 12 second-chance points. In the third quarter, the Pacers failed to match up on defense several times and gave up easy conversion buckets.

In the fourth quarter, TJ McConnell rocketed a pass to Isaiah Jackson from five feet out, and the ball flew into the air for a Celtics steal. The Celtics deployed seldom-used forward Brissett as a center and he scored 15 points in nine minutes played as the Pacers struggled to find an answer to an unusual small-ball appearance.

But while all of those things were serious problems in Game 2, they paled in comparison to Halliburton’s exit from the game. If Halliburton re-aggravates the left hamstring injury that forced him to miss 10 games in mid-January, the Pacers are going to struggle to compete with the Celtics in this series. – Eric Nehm, senior NBA writer

Myles Turner threw up his hands in frustration. The Pacers center couldn’t believe he was whistled for his third foul with 4:11 left in the second quarter.

When Turner and Celtics center Al Horford collided near the baseline, Turner begged Indiana coach Rick Carlisle to challenge what appeared to be a questionable call.

When Turner finally sat on the sideline, his frustration with his teammates and assistant coaches was written all over his face.

The moment heralded a performance Turner would like to forget. After scoring 18 of his 23 points in the first half of Game 1, he went scoreless in the first half of Game 2.

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Turner finally got on the board midway through the third quarter with a turnaround jumper that cut Boston’s lead to four points, but Indiana couldn’t overcome Turner’s rare off night in these playoffs.

Turner entered Thursday averaging 17.9 points. He finished Game 2 with eight points and four turnovers in 24 minutes.

Of all the players on the pacers’ list, Turner is the last to be reminded of just how great this run has been. As the team’s longest-tenured player, Turner took three years to get back to the playoffs, and he advanced past the first round until his sixth playoff appearance this season.

If the Pacers hope to avoid falling into an 0-3 hole, he’ll need to play much better in Game 3, especially since Halliburton is still concerned about the sore left foot that forced him out of Thursday’s game. — James Boyd, staff writer

Required reading

(Photo: Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)

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