117-114, ten seconds left, Indiana inbounding the ball.

Most NBA games are as good as gone at this point. Fans started to stream out of a sold-out T.D. Garden, the Pacers had a 97% chance of winning according to ESPN’s win probability and two free throws would seal the victory.

They never made it to the foul line.

Jaylen Brown forced a turnover on the inbounds, giving the Celtics a lifeline. Three seconds later, he tied the game with a corner three as Indiana elected not to foul. After Tyrese Haliburton missed a game-winning triple, game one became the third contest of the NBA playoffs to reach overtime. In OT, Jayson Tatum scored six points in 30 seconds to lift the Celtics to their first come-from-behind postseason win this year.

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No team gets more scrutiny than Joe Mazzula’s men for how they finish games and play in clutch moments, but Tuesday felt like a turning point. The Celtics proved they could handle the ebbs and flows of a game while executing in the crucial moments. For a team known for blowing leads in big spots, Boston proved how valuable playoff experience can be at this time of the year, and they kept the door wedged open before kicking it down in the extra five-minute period.

At the beginning of the game, overtime seemed impossible. Like they did against the Heat, Tatum’s team burst out of the gates for an opening 12-0 run. Indiana turned the ball over multiple times in the first three minutes and looked like a team gassed from playing in game seven two nights before. The Celtics played at their peak and could not be stopped.

Luckily for the Pacers, the game does not end at the nine-minute mark in the first quarter. Slowly, they worked themselves back into the game, and seven straight points from Obi Toppin at the end of the first cut the deficit to only three.

However, like the first quarter, Boston rolled to start the second. The Celtics led 47-37 after the first four minutes of the frame and forced Indiana to call timeout after a 13-6 run.

But a new trend started to emerge from Rick Carlisle’s club and they battled back for the second time. Myles Turner scored ten of his 23 points in the second, as his ability to smash the ball inside and shoot the long ball broke the Boston defense, and a miracle Haliburton three at the buzzer tied the game at 64 heading into the break. The Pacers went 8-15 from long range in the first half, and their sharpshooting dug them out of the early hole.

After Indiana finally started a quarter on time and scored the first five points of the third, Boston looked like a team ready to put this one out of reach. The Celtics scored ten straight points after the Pacers took the lead for the first time and pushed the lead to 13 after a Jrue Holiday three with four minutes to go in the quarter. Holiday’s leadership, defensive acumen and timely scoring made him the best Celtic player on the floor last night. His play proved why Brad Stevens traded for him in the offseason.

Just as it seemed like the game was finally under control, the Pacers bench said not so fast. Indiana went on a 16-2 run to end the third, receiving scoring contributions from Toppin and T.J. McConnell as their reserves outscored Boston’s 30-13 on the night. Another Haliburton three at the end of a quarter, this time a bank shot from 30 feet, meant his team trailed by one, 94-93, entering the fourth.

The teams traded baskets for the beginning portion of the quarter, but Indiana led by four with four minutes to go as the Boston offense started to dry up. Two timely baskets from Derrick White and Al Horford kept the Celtics within reach, but an Andrew Nembhard step-back jumper with 1:57 to go, gave the Pacers a 115-110 lead as they started to pull away. However, Brown made two clutch free throws with less than a minute left, making it a one-possession game, and two Indiana turnovers in the final 30 seconds kept the game alive.

Then, Brown hit the shot, Haliburton missed a contested three and a game that looked over went to overtime tied at 117.

The Celtics told themselves in the huddle before the five-minute period that they had received an extra lease on life and could not waste it.

They did not.

Even though Brown and Tatum combined for seven turnovers on the night and made some careless plays throughout the game, they elevated their play in OT. The duo combined for 14 of the Celtics 16 points and a Brown steal on Pascal Siakam helped put the game out of reach. Tatum hit two clutch free throws up three with eight seconds left as Boston stole a victory from the jaws of defeat.

Heading into game two, the Celtics received the wake-up call. Indiana’s offense obliterated their defensive structure, and if they do not focus more on that end of the floor, Boston will continue to find themselves in danger of advancing to the NBA finals.

The Pacers, however, may struggle to find the same rhythm in the next game as they did yesterday. Indiana had won game one, and to throw it away makes it difficult to refocus with such a short turnaround. Carlisle knows his team will not receive many gifts, and his team’s poor late-game execution spoiled what should have been a party.

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