Boston Celtics

Celtics-Pacers takeaways: Jrue and the Jays come up big in Game 1

The C's outlasted Indiana in overtime to take the series opener.

NBC Universal, Inc.

BOSTON -- If Game 1 was any indication, we're in for a thrilling Eastern Conference Finals series between the Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers.

It took an extra period to decide the winner of Tuesday's series opener. Boston led Indiana by 13 in the third quarter, but the Pacers wouldn't go down easily. They kept the C's to just two points over the final 3:23 of the frame and cut the deficit back to one point.

Indiana regained the lead with just under five minutes to go in the fourth, giving Boston just its second clutch time game of the postseason. The Celtics were on the verge of dropping Game 1 on their home floor, then Jaylen Brown came through with the game-tying 3-pointer with 5.7 seconds left to force overtime.

In OT, fellow C's star Jayson Tatum shook off a rough stretch and scored 10 points -- including a huge 3-pointer with 42.8 seconds to go -- to propel Boston to a 133-128 victory.

All five C's starters scored in double figures with Tatum (36 points), Jrue Holiday (28 points), and Brown (26 points) leading the way. Al Horford and Derrick White dropped 15 apiece.

Indiana had seven players in double figures, including Tyrese Haliburton (25 points), Pascal Siakam (24 points), and Myles Turner (23 points).

Game 2 at TD Garden is set for Thursday at 8 p.m. ET. Coverage begins on NBC Sports Boston with Celtics Pregame Live at 7 p.m.

First, here are three takeaways from a wild Game 1.

The Jays come through in the clutch

The Celtics needed their stars to step up with the game on the line, and they rose to the occasion.

It wasn't pretty for most of the fourth quarter. Tatum and Brown struggled mightily in the frame until it mattered most. Brown made up for his rough stretch with an incredible game-tying 3-pointer to send the game into OT.

Tatum went 2-for-10 in the fourth and OT before scoring six straight points on an and-one layup and a 3. He ended up with 10 points in the OT period to seal the win.

Brown finished with 26 points (10-20 FG), seven rebounds, five assists, two steals and a block. His only 3-point make (1-4) may have been the biggest shot of his NBA career.

Tatum had a game-high 36 points (12-26 FG, 2-8 3-PT) with 12 rebounds, four assists, and three steals. Twelve of his points came from the line.

Jrue Holiday's best game as a Celtic

Holiday picked a great time to have his best offensive performance with the C's.

The perrenial All-Defensive selection -- named second-team All-Defense earlier in the day -- stepped up with a season-high 28 points on an efficient 10-of-16 shooting (4-8 3-PT). His stellar outing continues what's been a scorching stretch dating back to Game 3 vs. Cleveland.

As Celtics stats guru Dick Lipe notes, this is the first time since late December that Holiday scored at least 13 points in four consecutive games.

While leading the C's offensively, Holiday made his usual impact on the defensive end. His presence was felt throughout the matchup, including in the third quarter when he drew a charge on ex-Celtic Aaron Nesmith.

Holiday's lockdown D on Haliburton was key to Boston finishing off the hard-fought win.

"[Jrue Holiday] is the best defender in the NBA and has been for a long time," Haliburton said after the game. "I'll learn from it and I'll be better in Game 2."

Holiday added eight assists, seven rebounds, and three steals in his outstanding all-around performance.

Fouls and turnovers doom Indiana

The Pacers' high-octane offense was as advertised in Game 1, but 53.5 percent shooting from the field still wasn't enough to overshadow their foul and turnover troubles.

Indiana's 21 turnovers were a playoff-high. Boston took advantage with 32 points off those mistakes.

The C's also got to the line for a whopping 30 free throw attempts. The Pacers had just 10 attempts, and only two until Nesmith finally got to the line with 3:18 left in the fourth quarter.

Their sloppiness was the difference and it proved costly in the game's most critical moments. They turned the ball over on an inbounds pass with 8.5 seconds left in regulation, leading to Brown's game-tying 3. In OT, Haliburton's turnover with 1:02 to go was a killer.

Twenty-four of the Celtics' points came from the charity stripe, meaning 56 of their 133 points came off Pacers fouls or turnovers. No matter how great Indiana's offense is, that won't cut it against this Boston team.

Contact Us