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Celtics continue road trip with a visit to the short handed Pacers

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The Celtics continue their 3 game road trip with a visit to the short handed Indiana Pacers, looking for their second straight win.

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

at
Boston Celtics (12-21) at Indiana Pacers (14-23)
Friday, January 9, 2015
7:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #34, Road Game #15
TV: CSNNE, FSI, NBA-LP 750(DTV)/751(xfinity)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, 1070 The Fan
Bankers Life Fieldhouse

Referees: Ed Malloy, Sean Corbin, Kevin Cutler

The Celtics continue their 3 game road trip with a visit to the short handed Indiana Pacers. This is the 2nd game between these two teams. The Celtics won their first meeting in Boston 101-98. They will play twice more on 3/14 in Indiana and 4/1 in Boston. That win in Boston snapped a 4 game losing streak to the Pacers.

The Celtics began their road trip with a win in Brooklyn on Wednesday. The Pacers are back home after a 2-2 four game road trip. They are coming off a 117-102 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday. The Celtics are playing in the first of back to back games and will head to Toronto to play the Raptors on Saturday.

Brad Stevens is looking for his first win in his home town. The Pacers won both games in Indiana by an average of 19 points last season. The Celtics are 4-10 on the road while the Pacers are 7-9 at home. The Celtics lead the series 87-72 but the Pacers lead at home 48-30.

The Pacers injury woes began with Paul George's injury on the Olympic team but they have gotten much worse. Their starting back court missed time on their road trip. George Hill (groin) missed the entire trip and is out for this game. Rodney Stuckey (groin) missed the last 2 games of the trip and is questionable for this game. Stuckey's replacement CJ Watson is also dealing with a foot injury but is probable for this game.

Roy Hibbert sprained his ankle in Wednesday's loss to the Warriors and is listed as questionable for this game. The Pacers are a much different team with Hibbert in the lineup. They opted not to have a shoot around this morning and so the Celtics aren't sure who will be playing and who will be out. Ian Mahinmi (plantar fascia) is also listed as questionable for this game. But, the Celtics shouldn't take this team for granted, even with all of the injuries. Too often a wounded animal is a dangerous one and that holds true for basketball teams as well.

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard

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Evan Turner vs CJ Watson

Shooting Guard
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Avery Bradley vs CJ Miles

Small Forward

vs
Jeff Green vs Solomon Hill

Power Forward

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Jared Sullinger vs David West

Center
vs
Tyler Zeller vs Roy Hibbert


Celtics Reserves
Phil Pressey
Brandon Bass
Kelly Olynyk
Gerald Wallace
Marcus Smart
Jae Crowder
Brandan Wright
James Young
Marcus Thornton

Injuries

Jameer Nelson (ankle) day to day



Key Matchups
vs
Tyler Zeller vs Roy Hibbert
Hibbert left Wednesday's game against the Warriors with an ankle injury and is questionable for this game. It would be a huge break for the Celtics if the 7'2" center is out. The Pacers allow a league best 47.8% shooting within 5 feet of the basket and Hibbert is a big reason for that.

vs
Jared Sullinger vs David West
West is averaging 12.1 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 3.5 assists and has torched the Celtics in the past. It will be important to limit his impact on the game. The Celtics will also need Sully to have a big game in this one.

Honorable Mention
Evan Turner vs CJ Watson
Turner played for the Pacers at the end of last season and never really got much of a chance to prove himself. He came in for a lot of criticism there. I'm sure he would love to have a big game in this one and get back at his old team.

Keys to the Game

Push the Pace - The Celtics are most effective when they run and move the ball. They struggle when they slow the pace of the game down. However, when they push the pace they have to focus more to avoid the turnovers that can derail their game. Against the Nets, they pushed the ball without turning it over. They need to do the same in this game.

Defense - Even though the Pacers aren't necessarily a high scoring team, averaging 95.1 points per game, the Celtics still need to play tough team and individual defense as they have players who are capable of having big offensive nights. Also, since the Pacers are a good defensive team, allowing only 96.6 points per game, playing good defense themselves will be the Celtics' best bet to beat them.

Rebound - The Pacers are 7th in the league in rebounding. The Celtics will need to put out extra effort to crash the boards as a team in order to prevent second chance points for the Pacers. The Celtics can't score without the ball and so they need to grab rebounds to give themselves more scoring opportunities.

Be Aggressive and Play Hard -
The Celtics need to play hard and be aggressive from start to finish. They have to be more aggressive on the boards, in diving for loose balls, in going hard to the hoop, and just play harder on both ends of the court.

X-Factors
Injuries and Effort

The Pacers are short handed and dealing with several injuries on the team. Hibbert's presence or absence will be a big x-factor. The Celtics can't use the Pacers' injuries to give less than 100% effort, however. If the Celtics play hard as they did against the Nets, they have a very good chance of winning this game.

Official Report

Ed Malloy

Malloy has officiated 764 regular season NBA games, 43 playoff games and four NBA Finals games, over the past 12 seasons. Prior to joining the NBA, Malloy officiated for one season in the NBA D-League, three seasons in the CBA and three seasons in the WNBA. He worked the 2002 NBA D-League Finals and the 2001 CBA Finals. Malloy is very quick to call technicals and in the past has ejected Doc Rivers, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett for 2 quick techicals, all 3 of which had one or both rescinded by the league afterwards. He has called games in the past that were lopsided against the Celtics as well as some that were lopsided in favor of the Celtics so he is inconsistent in the way games are called. The Celtics are 0-2 this season and 1-9 in their last 10 games with Malloy while the Pacers are 1-1 this season and 8-2 in their last 10. His home W/L record is 17-12.

Sean Corbin

Sean Corbin - The 19-year NBA referee has officiated 1,120 regular season NBA games and 54 Playoff games, along with the 2007 NBA All-Star Game, 1999 Japan Games in Tokyo and the 1996 Schick Rookie Game. Corbin spent the summer
of 2004 officiating basketball at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Corbin’s resume includes four years officiating in the CBA and nine years of collegiate officiating experience in the Big East, Southern, Southeastern, Mid-Eastern Athletic and Metro Atlantic Athletic Conferences. He also has four years of high school basketball officiating experience. Corbin has been good in most of his games with the Celtics without any bad games standing out. The Celtics are 1-2 this season and 4-6 in their last 10 games while the Pacers are 1-2 this season and 6-4 in their last 10. His home W/L record so far this season is 14-15.

Kevin Cutler

Kevin Cutler is entering his fifth NBA season after having officiated 217 games in his first four seasons. Cutler owns six years of collegiate officiating experience, including the 2009 NIT and the 2010 NCAA Tournament. Additionally, Cutler worked two NBA D-League Finals as well as the 2008 NBA D-League All-Star Game. The Celtics are 0-1 this season and 4-4 over Cutler's career. The Pacers are 1-1 this season and 7-3 over their last 10 games with Cutler. His home W/L record this season is 17-8.