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Celtics get first road test as they visit the Pacers

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The Celtics face their first road test as they visit the Indiana Pacers.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

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Boston Celtics (1-2) at Indiana Pacers (1-3)
Wednesday, November 4, 2015
7:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #4, Road Game #1
TV: CSNNE, FSI, NBA-LP 750(DTV)/751(xfinity)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, 1070 The Fan
Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Referees: Tony Brothers, Eric Dalen, Kane Fitzgerald

The Celtics face their first road test as they visit the Indiana Pacers. The Pacers had lost their first3 games, but got their first win on Tuesday night with a win over the Pistons. They are a dangerous team with George Hill, Monta Ellis, and Paul George who can all put up big numbers on any given night. They also can present matchup problems with their small lineup filled with scorers. They shouldn't be taken lightly.

The Celtics won the series 3 games to 1 last season, but the Pacers were without Paul George for the entire season and struggled with other key injuries throughout the season. In spite of having some prolific scorers on their team, the Pacers have struggled to score in this young season, even more so than the Celtics have. The Pacers are averaging just 92.7 points per game.

Both teams are relatively healthy. Avery Bradley injured a finger at the end of the Celtics last game vs the Spurs but practiced in a limited role on Tuesday and is listed as probable for this game. The Pacers center and rim protector, Ian Mahinmi, left the game against the Pistons with back soreness and is listed as day to day. If he can't play in this game, expect Jordan Hill to get the call to start in his place.

There has been much talk about whether it's time for the Celtics to change their starting lineup. The Celtics starters have struggled to score and also to defend inside. Jared Sullinger started the second half of the Spurs game and the second unit that finished that game almost pulled off a comeback but just fell short.

Although Brad Stevens has said he doesn't plan a change to the starting lineup, we may see a change, or he could stick with the lineup that started the first 3 games and give them a little more time to prove themselves. Also, given that the Pacers have a small lineup, the Celtics may change things up according to matchups.


Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard

vs

Marcus Smart vs George Hill


Shooting Guard

vs

Avery Bradley vs Monta Ellis

Small Forward

vs

Jae Crowder vs CJ Miles


Power Forward

vs

David Lee vs Paul George

Center

vs

Tyler Zeller vs Ian Mahinmi

Celtics Reserves

Evan Turner

RJ Hunter

Jonas Jerebko

Jared Sullinger

Terry Rozier

Isaiah Thomas

Amir Johnson

Kelly Olynyk

Head Coach

Brad Stevens

Assigned to Red Claws
Jordan Mickey

James Young

Injuries

Avery Bradley (finger) probable

Pacers Reserves

Lavoy Allen

Chase Budinger

Rakeem Christmas

Jordan Hill

Solomon Hill

Rodney Stuckey

Miles Turner

Shayne Whittington

Joe Young


Head Coach

Frank Vogel


Injuries

None

Key Matchups

vs

Marcus Smart vs George Hill

Hill has gotten off to a hot start in his first 3 games and is averaging 18.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.7 steals. Marcus Smart's defense will be tested against Hill's offense.

vs

David Lee vs Paul George

George is back on the court after a year off due to a gruesome leg injury that he suffered in the USA training camp. In spite of balking at the request to play power forward this season, he is playing very well at that position, averaging 17.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.7 steals. He will be a tough matchup for David Lee.

Honorable Mention

Avery Bradley vs Monta Ellis

Ellis is off to a relatively slow start averaging 10.0 points, 2.0 rebounds, 4 assists and 1.3 steals. However, Ellis is a very capable scorer and could bust out at any time with a big game. Avery needs to defend him well and hopefully, his slow streak will continue.

Isaiah Thomas vs Rodney Stuckey

Stuckey had a big game off the bench on Tuesday with 29 points in 26 minutes to lead the Pacers to a win over the Pistons. Isaiah Thomas has led the Celtics in scoring with 22.3 points per game in spite of shooting just 39% from the field and 20% from beyond the arc. The Celtics will need Isaiah to be more efficient and Stuckey needs to be well defended.

Keys to the Game

Make Some Shots - The Celtics biggest problem so far has been their inability to score the ball. They have all struggled and by the law of averages, someone is due to get hot soon. They have missed 3's, mid range shots, bunnies, and free throws. The Celtics are averaging 105.0 points per game but are shooting just 43% from the field and 26% from beyond the arc.

Rebound - Especially if either team is struggling to make shots, the Celtics must crash the board. They can't score without the ball and it will take extra effort on their part to grab the rebounds. The Pacers are averaging just 37.3 rebounds per game compared to 41.3 rebounds per game for the Celtics. The Celtics can't let that cause them to let up, however, and must be aggressive in going after rebounds.


Be Aggressive
- I already mentioned that the Celtics must be aggressive on the boards, but they also must be aggressive on defense, in going after loose balls, and just all around going all out. They have to aggressively attack the basket. They need to start the game with that aggressive attitude and be aggressive through the whole game with no let up. The more aggressive team will usually get the benefit of the doubt from the refs as well.


Play Defense
- Defense wins games. The Celtics need to tighten up their perimeter defense as they have allowed too many 3 pointers in the past two games. The Pacers are shooting 35.7 from beyond the arc and so the Celtics have to close out on their outside shooters. They also must play better defense in the paint as teams have been able to get easy shots there as well. They have to make playing tough defense a priority.

Take Care of the Ball - The Celtics have been turning the ball over too much. They are averaging 16.7 turnovers per game and that is too many. The Pacers are first in the league with 11.3 steals per game and so the Celtics must focus on making good passes and be aware of the Pacers ability to close out the passing lanes.

X-Factors

Fatigue

The Celtics have a deeper roster than the Pacers, who are playing in back to back games. They should look to keep fresh legs in there to run the Pacers and tire them out.

Road Game

The Celtics are playing their first game on the road and it remains to be seen how they react to playing in a hostile atmosphere away from the Garden.



Official Report
Tony Brothers
Tony Brothers is entering his 22nd season as an NBA official and has officiated 1,270 regular season games, 84 Playoff games and five NBA Finals games during his career. He was a member of the crew that officiated the 1996
Mexico Challenge, 1998 Schick Rookie Game, 1999 McDonald’s Championship in Milan, Italy
and the 2008 China Games.Prior to joining the NBA, Brothers spent four years officiating in the CBA, including three CBA Finals and a CBA All-Star Game. He has one year of collegiate officiating experience at the Junior College level. Brothers also has seven years of high school officiating experience in Virginia, including three state tournaments.

Two seasons ago, in a game vs the Knicks, twice Brothers made the correct call from across the court after Dick Bavetta, who was standing right on top of it, missed the call. All in all, Brothers is one of the better refs in the league. But, inexplicably in a game last season against the Lakers, he was terrible. He was the referee who ejected Isaiah Thomas on a bogus technical call, which has since been rescinded. He also missed a clear travel and double dribble by Lin right in front of him at a very crucial time. There were bad calls and bogus calls all game. The Lakers shot 38 free throws to 27 for the Celtics. Even the Lakers fans were complaining about the officiating going their way all game. Here is a comment from the Lakers boards that says it all, "The Refs are screwing our tank." Other than that game he has been a decent ref so who knows what we will get in this game.

Eric Dalen
Eric Dalen officiated 367regular season games in his first seven NBA seasons. Prior to the NBA, Dalen worked for five seasons in the NBA D-League and officiated the 2008 All-Star Game and Finals. He also officiated for three
years in the Southeastern Conference. Dalen was a two-year letter winner at the University of Minnesota where he played tight end for the football team.

I couldn't find much controversy on the guy other than an article where Andrew Bynum was complaining about Dalen calling all 6 fouls on him in a game in 2008. Some games he has called for the Celtics have been evenly called and well officiated while others have been terrible with bad and no calls and one sided officiating. He may be good or he may be bad depending on the other refs and the situation.

Kane Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald has officiated 380 games and two Playoff games in his six seasons as an NBA official. Fitzgerald started refereeing at the age of 18 at the high school level in New Jersey. Prior to the NBA, he had professional experience in the NBA D-League for four years and the WNBA for two years. He also refereed NCAA Division I basketball in the Ohio Valley, Atlantic Sun and Big South Conferences for two years.

You may remember Fitzgerald from 4 seasons ago when he gave KG a very quick pair of technicals (from about 30 feet away) and tossed him in the 2nd quarter of the Celtics 104-101 win over the Knicks (in which Amare scored 30). In another outing that season with the Celtics, the loss to the Bobcats in Charlotte, he tossed Stephen Jackson after 2 quick questionable T's. His quickness in giving technicals dates back to his days in the D-league where he was close to the top in calling technical fouls there as well. Players need to behave themselves when he is calling the game.

You may also recall him for calling the Nets game that resulted in the brawl. Fitzgerald gave Doc a T for yelling instructions to Rondo. They let the Nets get away with pushing and shoving and hard fouls the entire first half. The Nets shot 17 free throws to 5 for the Celtics in the first half and 3 of those free throws were on technicals. They did better in the second half after the brawl, but the refs' failure to call the game evenly in the first half led to frustrations and the fight.