Coach Joe Mazzulla: Celtics need 'more than confidence,' despite 2-0 ECF lead

Head coach Joe Mazzulla led the Boston Celtics to a 2-0 lead over the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference finals. File Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI
Head coach Joe Mazzulla led the Boston Celtics to a 2-0 lead over the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference finals. File Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI | License Photo

May 24 (UPI) -- Coach Joe Mazzulla says his Boston Celtics need "more than confidence" if they want to beat the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference finals, despite taking a 2-0 lead with a second-consecutive double-digit victory.

Forward Jaylen Brown matched his career playoff high with 40 points to lead the Celtics to a 126-110 Game 2 triumph Thursday at TD Garden in Boston. The series will now shift to Indianapolis for Game 3 and Game 4.


"They do a great job protecting their home court," Mazzulla told reporters, when asked about the Pacers. "They're undefeated at home. It's gonna take a lot more than confidence to get the job done.

"We have to focus on the details and the execution and the mindset, the things that go into playing against a team like this at home. I know they're gonna respond so it's up to us to do the same."


The Pacers also were down 0-2 in their last series, after dropping the first two road games against the New York Knicks. They went on to win four of the final five games, including Game 7 in New York. The Celtics failed to advance to the NBA Finals in five of their last six trips to the Eastern Conference finals.

"It's great, around this time of the year, to take advantage of home court," Brown said. "That's what we worked all season for, being the No. 1 seed. Being able to take care of business here at home.

"Now let's go steal one on the road, or two."

The Celtics held a narrow 53.4% to 52.4% edge in shooting in Game 2. They also shot 40.5% from 3-point range and 85% from the free throw lines, compared to the Pacers' respective 37.9% and 68.8% clips. The Celtics held a 54-36 edge in points in the paint and led by as many as 20 points.

The first quarter featured seven lead changes before the Pacers used a 10-4 run to take control. They carried a 27-25 edge into the second.

The Celtics responded with a 17-0 run to start the quarter and led 57-51 at halftime. The Pacers cut the deficit to two about four minutes into the third, but never closed the deficit down the stretch.


The Celtics carried a 93-80 lead into the fourth and outscored their foes 33-30 over the final 12 minutes. Celtics forward Jayson Tatum scored 19 of his 23 points in the second half, including 11 in the fourth quarter. Celtics guard Derrick White chipped in 23 points.

Guard Jrue Holiday logged 15 points and 10 assists.

"Winning is hard," Tatum said. "Winning in the playoffs is tough. It never goes how you expect it to. Each game is different in its own right. It did feel good to finally win a Game 2, especially at home. ... We are far from relaxed, but you take a win whenever you can get it."

Pacers forward Pascal Siakam totaled 28 points in the loss. Pacers guards Andrew Nembhard and Tyrese Haliburton scored 16 and 10 points, respectively.

Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said Haliburton, who sustained a hamstring injury and missed the entire fourth quarter, will be evaluated Friday and Saturday to determine his status for the rest of the series.

The Pacers will host the Celtics in Game 3 at 8:30 p.m. EDT Saturday at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. They will host Game 4 on Monday in Indianapolis.


"We've gotta try to make it as difficult on them as possible," Carlisle said. "We've gotta be physical, persistent, we've gotta play our game, have the right help at the right time, if needed. We've gotta make these guys make difficult shots and we've gotta rebound the ball."

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