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NBA Playoffs: Celtics Take Game 1 in OT Thriller

Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum and Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton in overtime of Game 1 of the NBA Eastern Conference (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

The Boston Celtics were able to hold off the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night to win Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, 133-128, in an overtime thriller. 

Jaylen Brown hit a clutch three-pointer in the fading seconds of regulation to tie the teams up at 117 and send the game into extra time. The Celtics were able to capitalize on the opportunity and outscore the Pacers 16-11 in the extra five minutes, closing out the game at the free-throw line.

Jayson Tatum top scored for the Celtics with 36 points to go along with 12 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals. 10 of his points came in overtime, which were instrumental in the Celtics pulling away in the last two minutes.

Jrue Holiday had a season-high 28 points on 10-16 shooting which included 4 from beyond the arc, to keep Boston in the game. Brown added 26 points, as all five Celtics starters finished with at least 15 points.

The Pacers had a good night offensively, shooting 53.5% from the field, including 13-37 from the three-point line. Tyrese Haliburton notched a double-double with 25 points and 10 assists while Pascal Siakam had another solid game with 24 points, 12 rebounds and 7 assists. 

The Pacers bench outscored the Celtics’ 30-13, mainly due to TJ McConnell and Obi Toppin who combined for 28 points on 12-19 shooting. Going forward the Pacers depth may play a large role in how the team fairs in the series.

The Celtics were without Center Kristaps Porzingis, who has not played since suffering an injury in Game 4 of the first round against the Miami Heat on April 30.  He missed the entirety of the five-game conference semis and will likely miss at least one more game against the Pacers. The Latvian native has been making progress in practice and the Celtics are hopeful that he will make a return around Game 4 of the Conference Finals. 

Game 2 of the series will be on Thursday night in Boston. The Pacers will need to put Game 1 behind them as they look to try and steal home court advantage.

Game Summary

Indiana got off to a bad start, missing their first six shots as the Celtics took a quick 12-0 lead. The Pacers eventually found their shot, and quickly trimmed the lead down to three by the end of the first frame, mainly through Obi Toppin who had 11 first-quarter points off the bench.

The Celtics however were able to build their lead back to double digits just four minutes into the second quarter with the Indian starters on the bench. Big man Myles Turner didn’t let the lead get out of hand, scoring 12 straight points for the Pacers against backup Celtics center Luke Kornet.

The game was tied going into halftime, 64-64, leaving both teams with everything to play for in the final to quarters.

Haliburton came out of the gates quickly, notching 5 points in the first minute to give Indiana momentum. The Celtics responded with a 7-0 run to leapfrog ahead once again, as the two teams continued to go back and forth.

Brown and Holiday then powered a 16-2 run which gave Boston its biggest lead of the night, 90-77. The Celtics missed five of their 13 free throws in the third quarter, which kept Indiana within striking distance and came back to haunt them, as the Pacers hit eight straight points and cut the deficit to one by the end of the quarter.

The game continued to be neck-and-neck in the fourth quarter with Indiana leading by three with a minute remaining. Brown hit two free throws to cut the lead to one, but Aaron Nembhard hit a stepback over Horford to push the lead back. After Tatum missed a three with only 14.1 left it looked like the Pacers would steal Game 1, but a forced Nembhard turnover on the inbound pass gave the Celtics one last shot.  

Brown took the opportunity to deliver a big three to tie the score at 117 and send the game into overtime and the Celtics rallied from there to win 133-128.