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Who is Oshae Brissett, the unsung hero for the Celtics in Game 2?

BOSTON -- Jaylen Brown is taking over the Eastern Conference Finals, but to win a playoff series, every team needs an unsung hero to step up when their number is called. In Thursday night's Game 2 win over the Pacers, Oshae Brissett answered the call for the Boston Celtics.

Brissett hadn't been a part of Boston's rotation for the last few months, but the reserve forward has been a key member of the Celtics' "stay ready" group. When center Luke Kornet had to leave Game 2 with a wrist injury, leaving Joe Mazzulla without a true center, the Boston head coach decided to play some small ball.

Thanks to Brissett, it worked beautifully for Boston. He was ready when he was inserted into the lineup at the four, with Jayson Tatum playing some center for the Celtics. Brissett only played 12 minutes in the 126-110 victory, but they were 12 energetic minutes that helped Boston keep pouring it on against Indy.

"It's exciting," Brissett said of his stint Thursday night. "This is my first time playing like this. Just trying to soak it all in. But ultimately, just trying to win."

Brissett checked as the Celtics were on a 7-0 run in the second quarter, and helped push that to an 18-0 run to build a double-digit lead. He hit the only shot that he took -- a dunk off a nice feed from Jaylen Brown in the third quarter -- but that wasn't the reason he was on the court. His flexibility as a defender allowed the Celtics to switch on everyone, and he ended up a plus-18 in his brief stint.

Most of what Brissett did won't show up in the box score. But he held the Pacers to just 1-for-3 shooting, and logged three steals and five deflections. 

"Just trying to do everything I can to get the win," said Brissett, who played the last three seasons with the Pacers. "Try to do everything I can to give us some energy. We were playing really well. But going into that time, we could definitely turn things around, positive or negative. So I feel like I did a good job of turning us in the positive way and keeping that energy up."

"He plays with such a high level of intensity and energy," Mazzulla said. "It's big for us."    

No one was expecting Brissett, who went undrafted out of Syracuse in 2019 and spent some time in the G League, to play such an important part of Game 2. But that's why it's so important to have a "stay ready" group that is always engaged, even when they're not logging minutes in games.

"I mean, it was a plan to just stay open-minded," Mazzulla said of the small-ball lineup. "I knew every game is going to be different, especially with [the Pacers] and their ability to just put pressure on you in different ways with their lineup. So it was a plan to get to something like that, eventually. We were kind of forced into it, but I thought it went well. I liked the speed, I liked the athleticism, I liked the spacing that we had. So, it presents strengths and some weaknesses that we have to be ready for, but I think the open-mindedness throughout the to play different ways kind of prepares us for a situation like this."

The biggest benefit of Brissett's quality minutes on Thursday was that it limited veteran Al Horford to just 25 minutes. Horford has filled in admirably while Kristaps Porzingis is on the mend, but he's struggled with the fast-paced Pacers. 

Given his performance Thursday night, Brissett has likely earned himself some more run in Game 3 on Saturday night. 

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