The Celtics Escaped Game 1 With An OT Win Thanks To Brown And Tatum’s Late-Game Heroics

The Boston Celtics came into the Eastern Conference Finals as heavy favorites against the Indiana Pacers, and they looked early on like they might make a statement performance in the opener.

Boston came out on fire, starting the game on a 12-0 run that had the TD Garden in a frenzy.

The Pacers would regroup, though, and cut the deficit to three after the first quarter and stay attached throughout the second, getting the game tied at the half on a Tyrese Haliburton logo three to beat the buzzer, and finally took their first lead early in the third.

Boston would push the lead back out to double digits in the third, but Indiana would quickly hit back and, again, it was Tyrese Haliburton hitting another buzzer-beater, this time on a double-pump, to cut the Celtics lead to one.

The two teams traded blows in the fourth until it seemed Indiana had full control and would steal Game 1. They dodged one bullet after a Haliburton turnover up three, but would not survive a second when Andrew Nembhard threw an inbounds pass that got tipped away and then knocked out of bounds by Pascal Siakam with just under 10 seconds to go.

The Celtics drew up a baseline out of bounds play to get Jaylen Brown a corner three to tie it, earning a Double Bang from Mike Breen as he found the bottom of the net over tight defense from Pascal Siakam (who was trying to make sure he didn’t foul).

The Pacers would get the ball to Haliburton easier than expected on the ensuing inbound, but after starting a drive, he bizarrely veered out sideways and could only hoist a leaning three that missed, sending the game to overtime.

In overtime, the Pacers again took an early lead but it became the Jayson Tatum show down the stretch, starting with an and-1 bucket to tie the game (and then give Boston the lead at the line).

From there, Haliburton got swarmed by Jrue Holiday on defense and dribbled the ball out of bounds (his second rough turnover late in the game).

Tatum would make Indiana pay for the sloppiness, drilling the dagger three from the top of the key to lift Boston to a 133-128 win.

It was a wild game that Indiana will have to mentally figure out how to come back from. They had their chance to steal the opener and got the tremendous shooting performance they needed (53.5 percent from the field, 37.1 percent from three). Haliburton had 25 points and 10 assists, Siakam had 24 points, 12 rebounds, and seven assists, Myles Turner had 23 on 9-of-13 shooting, and four other Pacers reached at least 12 points. It was the exact formula they needed to win, but they kept shooting themselves in the foot with turnovers (21 on the game) to keep giving the Celtics chances down the stretch.

Boston wasn’t exactly crisp themselves, with 14 turnovers, including some seemingly crucial gaffes from their stars late in the game. However, Tatum (36 points, 12 rebounds) and Brown (26 points, seven rebounds) were able to hit massive shots when they needed them, and they got a lift from Jrue Holiday (28 points, eight assists, seven rebounds) in his best offensive performance of the postseason. The Celtics will have plenty to look at on film on Wednesday, but it’s much better to need to clean things up after a win than a loss in the opener.

For the Pacers, they’ll need to find a way to shake off the end of both the fourth quarter and overtime and bring the same kind of performance to Game 2. That’s easier said than done, and we’ll find out Thursday night whether this game took too much out of them or if it gives them confidence they can take down this Celtics team.