Boston Celtics

Alex Barth

Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum stayed ready for their big moments in Game 1

Despite struggling at times, both Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum were able to rise to the moment when the Boston Celtics needed them most in Game 1. "Big-time players make big-time plays." That was Jayson Tatum's go-to remark in his post-game press conference after the Boston Celtics' Game 1 overtime win over the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday. He used that phrase to describe both himself and Jaylen Brown, who each had their big moments in the team's clutch win. However those moments were born, in part, due to both players struggling early on. How they stayed locked in despite those issues was a common talking point after the game. Brown's big moment came at the end of regulation. He was on the floor for eight of the first 11-plus minutes of a close fourth quarter but in that time scored just two points - both coming at the free throw line. He wouldn't hit his first field goal of the quarter until there were six seconds to go. That shot - he first and only made three pointer of Game 1 - tied the score at 117-117 and sent things to overtime. Jaylen Brown celebrates after hitting the game-tying shot with six seconds to go in the fourth quarter of Game 1. Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports "I only took four threes, and for the most part, I was just trying to get to the paint for most of the game," Brown recalled after the game. "But down three, we need a big shot, and big play to extend the game." Despite not shooting much from deep, Brown remained ready and was confident in the moment. "I was just talking to myself [leading up to the play]. 'If I get this shot, it's going in.' I was telling myself the whole time, 'if you get it, it's going up, and it's going in,'" Brown shared after the game. "Jrue [Holiday] made a great pass, [Derrick] White set a good screen, and the rest was history." https://twitter.com/NBA/status/1793108842781499866 “It’s simple: Big-time players make big-time plays," Tatum said after the game, recalling the shot. "That was a hell of a shot he made." Tatum's turnaround was a bit more extreme. After a solid first three quarters he faded for most of the fourth. He scored just four points in that quarter on 2-of-7 shooting while missing multiple open looks in the final two minutes that could have helped the Celtics avoid the dramatic ending all together. Aided by Brown's heroics though, Tatum was able to regather himself and lead the Celtics in taking control of the game in overtime. He finished OT with 10 points - the first 10-point overtime performance by a player in a playoff game since 2021 - as the Celtics outscored the Pacers 16-11 over the extra five minutes. “It really just felt like we had a second chance," Tatum said after the game when asked about his approach to overtime. "JB [Jaylen Brown] gave us a second chance by hitting that shot. And we just talked about it in the huddle. ‘We got a second chance. Let’s take advantage of it. Let’s not mess around. And let’s figure out a way to win this game.” As for his own personal approach after a rough fourth quarter, Tatum said he leaned on past experience to work through it. Jayson Tatum reacts after hitting a basket in overtime. Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports "I think just mentally understanding that I’ve had spurts throughout big games where I didn’t hit shots or shoot the ball well. But it’s as simple as just believing that the next one is going in," he recalled. "I always feel like I’m just, I’m one make away from being hot or being in a great rhythm. So, taking the right shots, playing within the flow of the game, and doing all the other necessary things to impact the game." Or to put it more simply, "big-time players make big-time plays. Simple as that.” That was Tatum's response when asked about bouncing back from a mental mistake that led to a turnover at a key point in the fourth quarter. Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla echoed that approach when asked about Tatum's night postgame. "I just think he missed some good looks. Some open ones," he said. "He just plays with a level of poise and a level of comfort, knowing that the next one’s got a chance to go." It also happened to be something Mazzulla talked about during his weekly appearance on Zolak & Bertrand earlier in the day on Tuesday. Tatum finished the game as the Celtics' leading scorer with 36 points. Brown finished third with 26, two behind Holiday. Now, the duo will try to carry over the momentum of their late-game rebounds into Game 2. That will be on Thursday, with coverage starting at 7:30 p.m. on the BetMGM 98.5 The Sports Hub Celtics Radio Network.

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