The Celtics need to come out strong and try to put this team away. They have won the first two games in Indiana by an average of 11 points per game. The second game, the Celtics won without both Perk and KG. The Celtics are playing in the second of back to back games and the starters played over 30 minutes against the Bulls so fatigue could be a factor if the game is close at the end.
The Pacers are in the 10th spot in the East and 3 games out of the playoffs. They are going to give it all they've got to try to keep their playoff hopes alive. Also, Jim O'Brien would love nothing better than to beat his old team.
Jermaine O'Neal returned to the Pacers for their last game after missing 2 months and gave them a lift as they beat the Heat by 20. Stephen Graham also returned to the lineup after missing 6 games. To quote Danny Granger, "We have to go out and give our best every game the rest of the way." The Pacers will be giving their all. Hopefully the Celtics will match their effort.
Probable Starting Matchups
PG: Rajon Rondo vs Flip Murray
SG: Ray Allen vs Danny Granger
SF: Paul Pierce vs Mike Dunleavy
PF: Kevin Garnett vs Troy Murphy
C: Kendrick Perkins vs Jeff Foster
Rajon Rondo vs Flip Murray
Rondo should continue to have his way with opposing point guards in this game as he has the quickness edge against Murray
Kevin Garnett vs Troy Murphy
The Celtics should look to get the ball inside to KG who should be able to score against Murphy. He should also match up well defensively against him.
Kendrick Perkins vs Jeff Foster
Foster is a very good offensive rebounder and Perk will need to box out and keep him off the glass to prevent the Pacers from getting second chance points.
Defend the Perimeter Jim O'Brien's offensive scheme is to have his players shoot if they are open. The Pacers average almost 9 3's per game. They are a threat from beyond the arc. The Celtics are the top defensive team against the 3 so hopefully they will be able to stop the Pacers from taking over beyond the arc.
Attack the Basket The Pacers are in the top 3 teams with points allowed in the paint at 32.16. They are not a strong defensive team and so the Celtics should attack the basket and look to score inside whenever possible.
Take Care of the Ball The Celtics turned the ball over 19 times against the Bulls and that kept the game closer than it should have been. They need to take better care of the ball and value each possession.
Motivation As with all of the games the rest of the season, it is going to come down to motivation. Are the Celtics more motivated to finishing strong and clinching the best record in the playoffs, or will the Pacers be more motivated to try to make the playoffs to earn a first round matchup against the Celtics?