Kyrie Irving is making the most of his first playoff series with the Boston Celtics, who take a 2-0 lead into Game 3 at the Indiana Pacers on Friday. Irving scored 20 points and helped lead a dominant defensive effort in a series-opening 84-74 win and finished with 37 points, seven assists and six rebounds in Wednesday's come-from-behind 99-91 victory in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference best-of-seven matchup.
"It's pretty peaceful," Irving, who missed the playoffs last season due to injury, told reporters of his first great performance in the postseason with the Celtics. "I'm just happy to be able to be part of a lineage of great players that have put on some unbelievable performances here in the TD, as well as in the old Garden." Boston trailed by 12 points with 11 minutes remaining before putting together a 16-0 run -- the last eight points by Irving -- to seize control. "It's always been one quarter that kills us in the second half," Pacers forward Thaddeus Young told reporters of his team, which lost its way in Game 1 when it was outscored 26-8 in the third quarter. "We're getting good looks and shots are not falling. ... We gotta put together a 48-minute game and we haven't been able to that." Bojan Bogdanovic scored 23 points in Game 2 for Indiana, which is shooting 38.8 percent from the floor in the series.
ABOUT THE CELTICS: Forward Jayson Tatum scored 26 points in Wednesday's win and was the catalyst in a game-ending 10-0 surge by producing six points and one assist. "I just get really excited," Tatum, who is averaging 20.5 points on 54.8 percent shooting in the series, told the media. "This is the best time of year in basketball and it's the most important time of the year, so you've got to try to be your best, be aggressive, because every game really counts." Center Al Horford fought through an illness to grab 10 rebounds in Game 2 for Boston, which has a 103-78 advantage on the glass in the series.
ABOUT THE PACERS: Shooting guard Wesley Matthews was held to six points -- his second straight single-digit effort -- in Game 2 and had a turnover in the closing moments with his team down three points, but hopes the team can carry some positives back home. "Missed a couple of good looks," he told reporters. "Held them under a 100. The defense was still there. They made more timely baskets than we did." Center Myles Turner, who averaged 13.3 points and 7.2 rebounds during the regular season, is averaging 6.5 and 5.5, respectively, in the series.
1. Pacers PF Domantas Sabonis, who averaged 14.4 points in the regular season, has a total of eight points on 3-of-10 shooting in the series.
2. Irving has at least 20 points in 10 of his last 11 playoff games and the one in which he fell short of that mark he finished with 19.
3. Boston has won five straight meetings overall, the last four in a 20-day span.