The Boston Celtics have viewed every playoff opponent as a new challenge, and the same goes for the No. 6 seed Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference finals round.

Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla dug deeper into the specifics behind Indiana’s successful Game 1 bid. The Pacers battled and stuck around until the very end of regulation, taking a 3-point lead with 10 seconds left in the fourth quarter, but the storylines will center around Boston. In fending off Indiana’s Tyrese Haliburton and Pascal Siakam, the Celtics avoided a slow start to their conference finals bid in Tuesday’s 133-128 Game 1 win.

“Because of the speed that they play, it can be very difficult for most people to be like, ‘Oh, they’re not defending’ or ‘Oh, they have to take this away or that away.'” Mazzulla explained at Wednesday’s team practice. “This team just tests your risk management, and it could be different every game. If you’re down six (points) — we talked about this with other teams. If you’re down six to eight points, it’s a much different type of defensive scheme if it’s tied or if it is eight to 10 points. The most important thing is the communication between our guys.”

Boston had its chances to begin the series in the winner’s circle, without the need for a heroic off-balanced 3-pointer from Jaylen Brown in the corner to knot up the score 117 a piece and send Game 1 into overtime. The Celtics knew they needed to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and showcase more mental strength than they have all postseason.

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Boston didn’t shy away from self-reflection, from Mazzulla to the rest of the coaching staff to everyone in the locker room.

“You got to understand how you won,” Mazzulla said. “You have to be susceptible to the reasons why you can lose and get better at those every day.”

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