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3 things the Celtics need to do to end their Game 2 slump


The Celtics lost two games in Game 2 of the playoffs. Will the third time be the charm?

Jayson Tatum and Tyrese Haliburton. Barry Chin/Globe Staff

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Despite having home-court advantage throughout the playoffs, the Celtics split the first two games of each series thanks to losses in Game 2.

Both were double-digit losses at TD Garden. The Celtics bounced back well each time, winning the next three games of each series.

Boston now has the opportunity to take a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals against the Pacers on Thursday night.

Will the third time be the charm for Game 2 of the playoffs? Here are three things the Celtics need to do to get there.

Be ready for a 3-point barrage

Opponents have made just over half (36 of 71) of their 3-point attempts against the Celtics in Game 2 during this postseason.

Miami made most of it, making a franchise playoff record 23 threes, while Tyler Herro dished out 14 assists.

The Celtics swore they would do a better job defending the 3-point line after the game, and they did. Miami shot 23 percent (21 for 90) for the rest of the series.

Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland went a combined 9 of 12 from beyond the arc in Game 2 of Cleveland’s series. Mitchell missed the last two games with a calf strain and Garland was unable to replicate that performance.

The Pacers are more than capable of catching fire from deep. They shot a record 38 percent in the playoffs and are the only team shooting a higher percentage than the Celtics. They dominated the Celtics in the first game and almost stole the game. Expect Indiana to continue shooting from the outside.

Ask Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to set the tone on the glass

The Celtics are 9-0 in the playoffs when Jayson Tatum grabs 10 or more rebounds, and 0-2 when he doesn’t.

Boston bounced back as a team in both losses and Tuesday night in the opener. Tatum has been the Celtics’ leading rebounder all postseason, and his work on the boards is crucial with the absence of Kristaps Porzingis.

Boston kept a short rotation with its bigs. Xavier Tillman and Neemias Queta played sparingly. Luke Kornet averages 4.2 rebounds per game. Al Horford had a monster performance in Game 5 of the Cavs series with 15 rebounds.

But most of Boston’s bounce-back production will likely come from behind the scenes in this series. Tatum and Brown must win these battles.

Keep the pressure on

The Pacers have the best and most efficient offense in the NBA. They lead the league in points per game, offensive rating and assist-to-turnover ratio.

Indiana had 21 turnovers in Game 1, nearly double its playoff average (11.6) and seven more than the Celtics.

Boston got key stops in decisive moments, including two late turnovers from Indiana star Tyrese Haliburton.

The Celtics did a better job getting stops and taking care of the basketball. They could make a similar effort Thursday night.


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