BOSTON — The Celtics found themselves on the brink of kicking off their Eastern Conference finals series with the Pacers on the wrong foot, until the team took a breather and stunned everyone watching in the fourth quarter.

Initially, Indiana appeared to have Game 1 in the bag. The Pacers held a 117-114 lead with 46.1 seconds left in regulation, giving the Pacers a 71.7% probability for victory, per ESPN. Boston fans at TD Garden were packing up and calling it a night, however, it only took an unlikely inbounding turnover by the Pacers to wake the Celtics up and muster up some heroic motivation to push a then-dud performance into overtime.

With 10 seconds left, Brown deflected an inbound pass off Indiana’s Pascal Siakam, securing the biggest possession of the night for the Celtics. And then moments later, off an inbound from teammate Jrue Holiday, Brown connected on a game-tying 3-pointer from the corner, sending the TD Garden faithful into a frenzy — and Boston to a 133-128 Game 1 win in overtime.

“Welcome to the NBA playoffs,” Brown said. “You just gotta manage your emotions of the game. Anything can happen. The game is not over until the final buzzer sounds and that was a good example of that. We was able to turn them over a little bit toward the end; one with Haliburton on the sidelines and I was able to get the deflection off of Siakam, that just extended the game. It’s not over until it’s over.”

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All the Celtics needed was a chance at new life.

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The faith wasn’t limited to the nail-bitting ride-and-die fans who stuck with the Celtics from start to finish. Boston’s defensive intensity in the final seconds of a game many interpreted as a sealed deal was a reflection of the team’s collective mindset. They didn’t allow the final precious seconds go to waste, didn’t allow the Pacers to trot around the court and take a knee, and treated the game like a Game 7 scenario.

Nobody in Boston’s locker room was under the impression that the Pacers had won Game 1 until the final score said so.

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“I don’t think that we think we lost the game until we actually lost the game, and that was part of the reason why we were so resilient toward the end of the game,” Holiday said. “Like I said, anything can happen. A couple of turnovers, a great shot, great look by JB. On the other hand, we make a couple of those shots that were wide open and it could be a completely different game. We’re just the type of team that’s gonna keep fighting no matter how long and no matter what it takes.”

Holiday, fresh off sharing an All-NBA Defensive Second-Team nod with backcourt partner in crime Derrick White, delivered on both ends of the floor. The 33-year-old scored 28 points, making Holiday’s best performance this postseason, shooting an efficient 10-of-16 while collecting three steals.

The contributions came from all over the place, but most importantly it was Boston’s mental strength in finding comfort in the uncomfortable that ultimately helped log their gutsiest performance in the playoffs thus far.

“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 figure out a way to win this game,'” Jayson Tatum said.

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Consider Boston’s battle-tested box officially checked off.

Featured image via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images