NBA: Celtics grind to overtime Pacers win in East finals opener

AFP , Wednesday 22 May 2024

The Boston Celtics needed a late rally to force overtime against the Indiana Pacers before emerging with a 133-128 win in game one of the Eastern Conference Finals on Tuesday.

Boston Celtics
Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown (7) reacts after making a 3-point shot against the Indiana Pacers to tie the game with seconds left in regulation of Game 1 of the NBA Eastern Conference basketball finals, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)


Boston's Jaylen Brown sank a three-pointer from the corner with 6.1 seconds remaining to tie the scores at 117-117 and take it to overtime.

Then Jayson Tatum made a crucial late three-pointer to push the Celtics to victory and a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Tatum top scored for Boston with 36 points, 10 of them in overtime, collecting 12 rebounds and four assists with Brown putting up 26 and Jrue Holiday 28.

Indiana, who fought back from large deficits several times in the game, were led by Tyrese Haliburton's 25 points, 10 assists and three rebounds with Pascal Siakam making 24 points, seven assists and 12 rebounds.

Brown was far from happy with the performance from Boston, who had almost a week off after their 4-1 series win over Cleveland.

"A lot of ups and downs, I don't think we played our best," said three-time All Star Brown.

"We almost dropped the game on our own floor. So we have got to come out and be better," he added.

The Pacers came into the game on the back of a gruelling game seven win against the New York Knicks on Sunday and Boston were the fastest out of the traps.

With the loud home crowd sensing Indiana were struggling, Al Horford's 26-foot three pointer made it 12-0.

The Pacers got back into the game and levelled it 64-64 at half-time.

A 13-point run in the third put Boston 87-77 up but again Indiana came back and with less than two minutes to go they led 115-100.

Costly turnovers

Indiana turned the ball over twice in the final 30 seconds of regulation before Brown's crucial three pointer, over the top of Siakam.

When Haliburton was unable to get off a last-gasp shot the game went to overtime.

A step back three-pointer from Tatum with 43 left put Boston four points up.

After Derrick White's layup extended the advantage to six with 25 seconds left, the game was beyond the Pacers.

"We were able to make some plays at the end but we have got to be better to be honest, but I'll take the win," said Brown.

Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle said he was to blame for allowing the Celtics to take the game to overtime.

"The loss is totally on me," he said.

"With 10 seconds left in regulation, we should have just taken the time out, advanced the ball and found a way to get it in and made a free throw or two and ended the game.

"But it didn't happen and we made some other mistakes," he added, referring to the team's turnover problems.

"We know we made mistakes and that is an area we have got to clean up," said Carlisle.

"We have been a tough-minded, resilient team for almost the entire second half of the year but we have to continue with that and come back here on Thursday night."

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