Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward Give Keys To Celtics’ Playoff Matchup Vs. Pacers


BOSTON — It’s hardly breaking news, but the Boston Celtics will play the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.

While it’s nearly been inevitable for the past couple of weeks, it was confirmed Sunday, as the Pacers’ loss to the Brooklyn Nets ensured home-court advantage for the Celtics in the first round of the postseason. Boston’s loss to Orlando Magic later on in the night solidified its position as the No. 4 seed and set up a Celtics-Pacers matchup beginning this weekend.

Off the heels of a 117-97 road win over the Pacers on Friday, Boston has reasons to be confident heading into the series, but nonetheless know the challenge that sits ahead of it as it tries to right the ship in the playoffs after an up and down campaign.

“Just play our game,” Kyrie Irving said of what it will take to be successful against the Pacers. “Be physical, do the little things out there. Use our IQ on both ends of the floor and just play together.

“Just be great. Just be great. It’s easy to do that, you know when you put in the work prepare as much as you do, take care of your body, just go out there an play. I’m just happy we get to prepare for a team for multiple days so that always makes it a lot better. Just go out there and make plays, there’s nothing really surprising out there in the playoffs so just go out there and get a good feel for the Pacers. Game 1 is a feel-out game and we go from there.”

Coming off a pair of late-season contests has given the Celtics a feel for what they are getting into. It helps too that players like Gordon Hayward and Jaylen Brown are back in the lineup, and in Hayward’s case, playing some of his best basketball of the season.

“I think it’s good we got a chance to see what they’re about,” Hayward said. “You know, kind of get ourselves ready a little bit with what they like to do. I know they’re going to be different though than the last two times we’ve played them. They’re definitely going to play better than last time. It will be a tough series so we have to be ready.”

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