BOSTON, MA — Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics have demonstrated that they can win in a variety of ways this postseason. Although a majority of their victories have been blowouts, the C's battled back in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Tuesday night, prevailing 133-128 in overtime against the Indiana Pacers.

However, so far in the 2024 NBA Playoffs, the Celtics haven't shown that they can win a Game 2. After going up 1-0 in each of their first two series, Boston proceeded to drop Game 2. This unfortunate trend is something Tatum is eager to avoid.

Following the thrilling Game 1 win, which saw 2024 All-Star Jaylen Brown tie the game with under six seconds in regulation, Tatum discussed how he and the rest of his teammates should elude complacency in Game 2.

I think I come with the mindset of, ‘Don’t relax,'” he said. “First two rounds, we won our first Game 1 by a wide margin. Maybe human nature played a factor in that. But tonight being a close game, going into overtime, they certainly feel like they probably should have won, and we feel like we can play a lot better. So, I’m excited for us to come out and respond and just do a better job of protecting home court than we have done recently.”

While the Celtics left TD Garden with a 1-0 series lead, they were just seconds away from suffering a brutal collapse.

They led by as much as 13 points in the third quarter but that advantage quickly disappeared down the stretch. All the Pacers really had to do was inbound the ball properly with 10 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Yet, Brown forced a turnover and then hit a huge triple to make the score 117-117.

On the next possession, Tatum locked up Pacers star Tyrese Haliburton to send the game to overtime.

That shit was chaos. That shit was wild,” Tatum said of the rollercoaster finish to Game 1. “This core group has been in so many big-time games, big-time moments where we’ve had a lead and lost it and still won or been down a lot and figured out a way to win. I’ve had a lot of crazy endings in [TD Garden]. So, in a weird way, we’ve been there before, and we always believe, in a sense.”

What the Celtics need to do differently in Game 2

Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) reacts against the Indiana Pacers
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Given Boston's close call, there's a lot it has to improve upon before Game 2 on Thursday night.

First of all, they have to try and slow down Indiana's blistering offense. The Pacers had the second-best offensive net rating during the regular season for a reason, and they were moving the ball well and shooting it efficiently.

If Boston wants to go up 2-0, it'll have to disrupt the Pacers' passing lanes and do its best to stop them from shooting above 53% from the floor. Of course, that's not entirely in the Celtics' control, yet being better in transition should help them out defensively.

We know the type of team we are. We’re never gonna give up,” Celtics guard Jrue Holiday said. “I think just trying to be as consistent as possible on the boards, trying to stop them from transition, they pass the ball up so well, they move the ball so well, especially off the rebound, that sometimes it gets tough. But something we’ll probably go back and take a look at is transition defense.”

Holiday, who's still a first-year Celtic, had arguably his best game yet as a Green Teamer. The two-time All-Star recorded a season-high 28 points to go along with eight assists, seven rebounds, and three steals.

Jrue Holiday played unbelievable tonight on both ends of the floor,” Tatum stated. “This was the definition of a team win.”

Even though a “team win” was an accurate assessment of the Celtics' Tuesday night win, they still need more from their bench.

Boston's reserves were outscored 30-13 by Indiana. The Pacers are renowned for their depth so that wasn't a total shock, but it was still a bit of a disappointment to see forward Sam Hauser and center Luke Kornet struggle on the defensive side of the ball.

With center Kristaps Porzingis officially out for Game 2, Boston's bench will have to step up its scoring or at least not be a liability against Indiana's speedy offense.

“Series is far from over,” Tatum said. “We gotta come back and play well enough to win again on Thursday … I know the ultimate goal is to try and win a championship. But one step at a time.”