Unlike their Western Conference counterparts, the teams from the East that matched up were far more evenly matched and created far more competitive contests. The Pacers and Raptors kicked off the playoffs and Indiana, despite being the seven seed, was able to upset Toronto at home, 100-90. The Hawks and Celtics played an incredibly intense game, but Atlanta came out on top, 102-101.
Pacers vs. Raptors
I’m sure Raptor fans are very apprehensive about their team after the shocking game one loss to the Pacers. They got swept by Washington last year, and Paul George played a sensational game for Indiana. The defense by both sides was exceptional in the first half, and both the Pacers and Raptors shot 39% through the first two quarters.
Paul George was bottled up and scored just six points on 2/9 shooting; DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry were equally inefficient, combining for 11 points on 4/17 shooting. The Raptors were lucky enough to up 45-43 at the break. In the third quarter, Paul George found his stroke. He shot 6/7 for the quarter and poured in 17 points while DeRozan and Lowry still struggled and combined for just ten points.
George capped off the afternoon with ten fourth quarter points on 4/6 from the field, giving him a second half total of 27 on 10/13 shooting and a game-high 33. DeRozan and Lowry weren’t as fortunate, finishing the day with 25 points on 8/32 shooting. Cory Joseph was the leading scorer for Toronto with 18, and Jonas Valanciunas had 12 points and 19 rebounds, breaking the franchise record that he set back in 2014.
The second game is set for Monday at 7:00 PM EST in Toronto.
Hawks vs. Celtics
This most competitive game on the slate wasn’t wire-to-wire as the score indicates. In the first half, the Celtics couldn’t throw the ball in the ocean and scored 34 points while shooting just 22% from the floor. Boston’s starters shot a measly 8/38 (21%) from the field while Atlanta held a 17-point lead heading into the break.
After an intense third period that saw eight points from both Isaiah Thomas and Evan Turner, the C’s were back in striking distance. They entered the fourth down 72-65. Both teams shot the ball well in the fourth and Boston made a furious comeback. Jae Crowder hit a triple with 6.6 seconds left to cut the lead to 100-98; Boston fouled, Teague hit two free throws, and Boston got the ball back with 5.2 seconds left.
Isaiah Thomas hit a marvelous 30-foot pull-up three with .4 seconds left to cut the lead to 102-101. On the following inbounds, Kyle Korver threw an errant pass, and Marcus Smart came up with the steal and almost connected on a three-quarter court heave — it was impressive, but wouldn’t have counted if it went it.
The Celtics played without Avery Bradley for most of the fourth after Bradley sustained a hamstring injury; Bradley’s questionable for game two but said that he heard a “pop” as he was running downcourt. Isaiah Thomas had a game-high 27 points and eight assists; Jeff Teague and Kent Bazemore had 23 points each, and Al Horford led the Hawks with 24.
Game two is set for Tuesday at 7:00 PM EST in Atlanta.