How Jaylen Brown and the Celtics pulled off OT win over the Pacers in Game 1: 4 key takeaways

By Jared Weiss, Jay King, Eric Nehm, James Boyd and Tobias Bass

In only the third overtime game of the NBA playoffs, the Boston Celtics overcame the Indiana Pacers to take Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals 133-128 on Tuesday night.

Boston defeated Indiana 16–11 in overtime to stay alive. Jaylen Brown hit a corner 3 with 5.7 seconds remaining after Indiana took the lead late to tie it and send it into overtime.

Although the Pacers had the lead, they started the game worse than one could imagine, as Boston started the evening with a 12–0 lead. However, Indiana came back strongly with 22 assists in the first half and Tyrese Haliburton’s 3 to tie the score at 64 at halftime.

Jayson Tatum (36 points, 12 rebounds and four assists), Brown (26 points, seven rebounds and five assists) and Jrue Holiday (28 points, eight assists, seven rebounds) led Boston.

Indiana’s big three scored over 20 points, led by Haliburton (25 points, 10 assists, three rebounds) and Pascal Siakam (24 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists). The Pacers will look to even the series in Boston on Thursday night at 8 PM ET.

Does slow and steady win the game?

The Celtics have been playing at a slow pace in the postseason against teams with less offense. Things are different now. The Pacers don’t just run the score or like to go on the fast break. They have a flow and side-to-side motion to their half-court offense that makes it hard for the Celtics to keep up at times.

Indiana dished out 38 assists on Tuesday, leading the way with ball movement and midrange shooting whenever things slowed down. But until Boston was able to slow things down and be physical in overtime, the Celtics didn’t really look like themselves.

It’s clear that Indiana is going to test the Celtics to maintain their identity throughout this series, as Boston made some mistakes trying to keep up with Indiana’s pace. But the Pacers had 22 turnovers, and once Boston figured out how to put high pressure on them, the Celtics’ transition attack started to look more like it usually does.

Building Holliday’s body at Haliburton was an important development of late, and Joe Mazzulla will have to decide how much he wants Holliday in that role going forward. It’s a way to push back on identity control of this series — anything to take away Haliburton’s freedom of movement and force everyone else to be downhill playmakers. Indiana is a worthy opponent and has come impressively prepared with a defensive game plan in such a short amount of time. Can the Pacers maintain this? The answer hasn’t been there for the Celtics opponents so far. But Indiana is relatively healthy and shooting the ball quickly, so he has a chance. , Jared Weiss, Celtics staff writer

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Pacers’ aggressive rhythm can cause trouble for C

Before Game 1, Mazzulla called this series “a big test” of the Celtics defense. He believed Indiana’s unpredictable spacing, constant motion and breakneck speed would present unique challenges. Throughout the regular season, no one played faster than the Pacers. They entered Tuesday ranked first in the playoffs in offensive efficiency after finishing second during the regular season, trailing only Boston.

After passing the test early during a powerful 12-0 start, the Celtics nearly squandered the rest. They led by double digits in each half but could not sustain any lead. The Pacers bench, which has been dynamite throughout the playoffs, led a third-quarter charge to nearly erase Boston’s 13-point advantage.

Haliburton cut Indiana’s deficit to 94-93 with a 3-pointer late in the third quarter, then Siakam started the fourth quarter with a jumper to put the Celtics back in front. They responded early in the fourth but were never able to keep the Pacers’ offensive rhythm down. Siakam and Andrew Nembhard scored multiple times on Al Horford, and the Celtics needed a crazy end to regulation to force overtime.

Boston’s defense will need to hold on for the remaining games of the series to give itself an easy time. , Jay King, Celtics Staff Writer

The efforts of the fast bowlers were affected due to poor play.

The Pacers came to TD Garden ready to shock the world. They withstood many of the Celtics’ shots and played like a more balanced team, taking a three-point lead with 46.8 seconds remaining. Then it all fell apart.

After getting a stop on the defense, Haliburton raced down the floor, but lost control of the ball and it went out of bounds. The Pacers recovered from that mistake and got another stop on defense. With 10 seconds remaining, all they had to do was successfully inbound the ball and draw the Celtics’ foul to tie the game at the free-throw line. Instead, when Nembhard tried to pass the ball to Siakam, he turned it over. And on the ensuing play, Brown hit a corner 3 to tie the game.

In overtime, the Pacers again withstood pressure from the Celtics to take a two-point lead with 1:46 remaining in overtime, but then Indiana committed two more turnovers and the Celtics took control. In the end, the Pacers’ careless play to close out the game wiped out their strong and composed effort over the first 47:50. , Eric Nehm, senior writer for Bucks

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Halliburton may take some heat

Haliburton’s season changed in the blink of an eye with a slip against the Celtics on January 8. The Pacers star pulled his left hamstring and was carried off the court at Gainbridge Fieldhouse with a towel over his head.

On Tuesday night, he was jumping and barking at fans at TD Garden while putting on a show against the same team that nearly derailed his best season. It took several months for Haliburton to regain his pre-injury form, but along with making the NBA Finals, there were times when he looked at the peak of his powers as the Pacers went head-to-head with the Celtics.

This was still not enough.

Haliburton has faced some criticism after some disappointing performances during his first playoff run, and while he’s on a turn, he’ll face some criticism for this game as well. After a strong performance in Game 7 at Madison Square Garden two nights earlier, he played well against the Celtics before faltering in the game’s biggest moments. Haliburton hit a 35-foot 3-pointer to tie the game just before halftime and made a 3-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer to cut the Celtics’ lead to one point in the fourth quarter. However, his 25 points, 10 assists and six 3s all went waste. James Boyd, Colts staff writer

(Top photo of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)


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