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Eddie House defends Tatum for polarizing performance vs. Pacers

The box score doesn’t tell the whole story of Jayson Tatum’s performance in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals vs. the Indiana Pacers.

While the Boston Celtics scored a game-high 36 points on 12-of-26 shooting, he struggled mightily in the fourth quarter and the early part of overtime. He was 2-for-10 from the field in the fourth and OT before scoring six straight points on an and-one layup and a clutch 3-pointer. He ended up with 10 OT points — the second-most in Celtics playoff history — to help his team to a thrilling 133-128 win.

Had it not been for Jaylen Brown’s heroic 3-pointer to force OT, the Celtics would be down 0-1 in the series and Tatum would be partly to blame. Still, as our Eddie House put it during Wednesday’s Early Edition, Tatum deserves credit for stepping up when he did.

“Showing up any time is better than showing up no time,” House said. “So I’m cool with that. … Don’t forget, against the Pacers this year we are 4-2 in six matchups. Jayson Tatum is averaging 30 points and 10 rebounds. I don’t know what more people want out of somebody. I mean, I know that it doesn’t look pretty, it doesn’t show up the way you would want it to, but he showed up at the right time.”

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Tatum has averaged 31.8 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 6.0 assists while shooting 47 percent from the floor over his last four games. He leads all players in the postseason with a +126.

His performance isn’t the only polarizing topic coming out of Game 1. There is also a debate over whether it was an impressive effort for the Celtics or if the Pacers cost themselves with their late-game miscues.

“Two things can be true at the same time,” House said. “It was an unbelievable choke job by the Indiana Pacers. They had some unforced errors, the one off Tyrese Haliburton off his knee, the pass across with (Pascal) Siakam not creating the lead. Those two things led to us having opportunities to get back into the game and win the game.

“I’m also happy because years prior to this, these are games we lose. We don’t win those games, we don’t find a way to win those games.”

The Celtics will look to take a 2-0 series lead Thursday night at TD Garden. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. ET, but coverage for the matchup begins right here on NBC Sports Boston with Celtics Pregame Live at 7 p.m.

Watch the full “Early Edition” segment below, or on YouTube:

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