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Lessons Learned From Celtics' Dominant Playoff Start

There's reason for enthusiasm in Boston. The Celtics started off their playoff campaign in the same building that last year's ended in, against the same team, but with a drastically different result. They dismantled Miami 114-94 in a game that was essentially wire-to-wire domination, and now have a 1-0 lead in the first-round series.

Tatum's Mix Of Selfishness and Selflessness Could Be Perfect For The Celtics

Jayson Tatum has been a defining factor in pretty much every single Celtics playoff game in his tenure. Game 1 was no different but in a very different fashion. His stat line of 23-10-10, the first triple-double of his playoff career, was indicative of a performance that could be very defining for him.

In past years, occasional shooting slumps, poor first-half starts, etc... by Tatum have put the Celtics in difficult spots. However, despite shooting only 1-8 from three and 7-18 overall, Tatum found a way to contribute by facilitating, being aggressive on the glass, and being calculated with his shot selection.

He finally has a roster around him where he's surrounded with proper talent up and down the roster, while still having an aura that will command the majority of opposing defenses' focus, and he has found an excellent way to take advantage - while still keeping his stats sheet looking nice.

The Bench Is Going To Be More Than A Side Character This Year

The Celtics' bench has been effective all year, but Game 1 provided proof of concept that the playoffs weren't going to be any different. Pritchard's energy, versatility, and basketball IQ easily make up for his size limitations, and Hauser, who started his playoff campaign with a masterful game where he shot 4-6 from beyond the arc, is turning into an extremely reliable sharpshooter.

The big man trio behind Porzingis of Horford, Kornet, and Queta will end up being an instrumental part of the bench as well, and their varied skill sets will allow for numerous different lineup combinations. While the playoffs are a place where personnel sizes naturally shrink, the Celtics will be able to get playoff-caliber basketball from a deeper place in their roster than most.

The Celtics Need To Keep Their Foot On The Gas

The only real negative moment in game 1 was the fact that it wasn't put away for good sooner. The Celtics were up by 30 in the fourth, but let the game get within 13 off of a Miami run that combined poor and hasty Boston possessions and a high level of intensity from the Heat, which forced the starters to stay in for essentially the rest of the game. In similar fashion, after taking an early 17-2 lead, the Celtics allowed an 8-0 run, and eventually ended the first quarter up by only 5.

In isolation, these runs aren't a big deal. However, it mirrors a pattern of taking big leads a bit lightly that has cost the Celtics in the past, especially against Miami. Whether it's the Cleveland game when they lost from being up 22, or the Atlanta game where they were up by 30, the Celtics have had the occasional lapses with big leads. The playoffs are where teams are at their most tenacious, and clamping on to leads, as well as late-game execution in general, will be paramount for a Celtics championship run.

The Bottom Line

Overall, game 1 was as good of a start as the Celtics could have realistically bargained for, and they'll look to capitalize in game 2 on Wednesday.

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