Josue Pavon, Jimmy Toscano and Nick Gelso are back with a late look at the keys to game 2.
#1) LIMIT SIXERS IN TRANSITION:
How do you keep a cold shooting team from heating up? Limit their transition offense. That will be a big key for the Celtics in game 2.
A lot of those starts and ends with Rookie Ben Simmons. Boston coerced the 21-year-old rookie into committing seven turnovers Monday night and if the C’s rattle Simmons -- the head of the snake -- again in Game 2, it’ll put them in great position to counter attack against a team that finished the regular season with the sixth most total transition points.
#2) MORE AL HORFORD PLEASE:
Al Horford has been anything but average these last two playoff games which led rookie sensation Jayson Tatum to dub him “Playoff Al.”
The veteran big man has averaged 26 points on a blistering 79.3 percent shooting from the field (23-29 FG.)
With Jaylen Brown out the Celtics need to “keep giving the ball to Horford,” as Gelso put it. Gelso also pointed out how Horford’s increased intensity if rubbing off on teammates.
#3) GET “MOOK” GOING:
With Jaylen Brown out for Game 2 Brad Stevens will have to take Marcus Smart away from the second unit for a second straight game and shorten his rotation. Behind an eight-man rotation, Stevens was able to lean heavily on the 83 points from Al Horford, Terry Rozier and Jayson Tatum in Game 1 -- which was special but he can’t rely on lighting to strike twice in Game 2.
Toscano says he needs to see more from the Celtics’ second unit -- which combined for 19 points in Game 1 -- which means more scoring production from Marcus Morris. Mook has scored 10 and 11 in his last two games at home but the C’s need that output to increase in Game 2.
#4) FOUL PLAY!
Aside from Joel Embiid’s monster double-double (31 points, 13 rebounds), it was Philly’s ability to get to the charity stripe that kept the game relatively close through three quarters. The Sixers attempted 35 free-throws in Game 1, finishing a plus-16 against the Celtics. Boston has to change that in Game 2.
As Pavon pointed out -- they have to be aggressive. Jayson Tatum attempted 12 of the Celtics’ 19 free-throws Monday, and if his teammates can follow suit Thursday, it’ll put Boston in good shape while also slowing down Philly’s offense.
#5) THREE IS KEY:
After attempting 35 3-pointers in Game 1, the Sixers are going to make sure the Celtics never drain 17 treys in one game again in this best-of-7 series. However, that shouldn’t stop the C’s from challenging Philly to defend the perimeter.
Boston got way too many open looks Monday. As Pavon alluded to, guys like Rozier, who knocked in seven, Horford and Tatum had plenty of time to get their shot off from the arc -- where the Celtics exposed Philly’s weakness