Indiana Pacers (32-42) at Boston Celtics (33-41)
Wednesday, April 1, 2015
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #75, Home Game #38
TV: CSNNE, FSI, NBA-TV
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, 1070 The Fan
Referees: John Goble, Steve Anderson, Courtney Kirkland
The Celtics host the Indiana Pacers in yet another must win game. This is the 4th and final meeting between these two teams this season. The Celtics are up 2-1 in the series, having won the first game101-96 at home and the most recent game 93-89 in Indiana, ending a 7 game win streak for the Pacers. The Pacers won the second game of the series at home 107-103.
The Celtics bench has been coming up big for the Celtics and they will need to play well in this game also. The Pacers bench averages 40.9 points per game, which is good for 2nd in the league. They also average 19.5 rebounds, which leads the league. The Celtics will need a good defensive effort from their bench as well as putting up points.
The Pacers are playing in the second of back to back games after losing to Brooklyn on the road on Tuesday night. The game went down to the wire and so they weren't able to rest their starters. The Pacers are 5-11 in the second game of back to backs this season. They are 3-2 in the second game when both games are on the road.
With the Nets win over the Pacers on Tuesday, the Celtics once again drop back to the 9th spot, 1/2 game behind the Nets who move up to 8th. The Pacers are 1 game behind the Celtics and the Hornets are 1.5 games behind the Celtics. There are two other games to keep an eye on. Brooklyn will be playing at the Knicks and though they are playing in back to back games, they should easily beat the Knicks. Also, Detroit is playing at Charlotte.
CJ Miles left the Pacers game on Tuesday with an ankle sprain and didn't return. He is listed as day to day for this game. Rodney Stuckey played with a sore wrist on Tuesday, but struggled and so is listed as questionable for this game. There have been rumors that Paul George would return for their games down the stretch but is not expected to be available for this game. This is a must win for the Celtics if they hope to stay in the playoff race. A win would help them keep pace with the Nets and also give them the tie breaker against Indiana should that come into play.
Probable Starting Matchups
Marcus Smart vs George Hill
Avery Bradley vs CJ Miles
Evan Turner vs Solomon Hill
Brandon Bass vs Davis West
Tyler Zeller vs Roy Hibbert
Jared Sullinger (foot) out
Paul George (tibia) out
CJ Miles (ankle) questionable
Rodney Stuckey (wrist) questionable
Tyler Zeller vs Roy Hibbert
In the game that the Pacers won, Hibbert finished with 19 points, 11 rebounds and 5 blocks. In the Celtics win over the Pacers in March, the Celtics held Hibbert to 5 points on 2-6 shooting along with 7 rebounds and 1 block. Hopefully the Celtics can once again limit his production in this game.
Marcus Smart vs George Hill
George Hill runs the Pacers' offense and it will be important for Smart to keep him from getting into their sets quickly. In their last meeting, Hill went off for 30 points along with 5 rebounds, 8 assists and 1 steal so the Celtics will also need to keep him from going off offensively.
Brandon Bass vs David West
West is averaging 11.9 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists but he is capable of having a big game if not defended well. In the last meeting between these two teams, he finished with 11 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists.
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. The Pacers are playing on the second night of back to back games and so the Celtics need to push the pace throughout the game and maybe they will wear them out.
Defense - Even though the Pacers aren't necessarily a high scoring team, averaging 96.9 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 very good defensive team, allowing only 97.3 points per game (5th in the league), playing good defense themselves will be the Celtics' best bet to beat them.
Rebound - The Pacers are 7th in the league in rebounding at 44.5 rebounds per game, thanks in part to their 7'2" center. 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 - 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.
Don't Depend on 3 Pointers - If the 3's are falling, it's really great, but too often they aren't and the Celtics wast possession after possession by jacking up 3's with the rebounds going to their opponents. Good things happen when the Celtics make an effort to get to the basket.
Effort and Focus - The Celtics need to bring their best effort to get a win in this game. If they come out with a sub par effort as they have in several of their losses, they won't have a chance. They need to play with effort on both ends of the court. They also have to stay focused. When they lose focus, their game suffers on both ends and they can't hit their shots and can't get stops.
Urgency and Focus
Both of these teams are playing for their playoff lives. The team that has the most urgency in their game and plays like they want it more, especially on the defensive end, will get the win. Hopefully that is the Celtics.
John Goble enters his eighth season having officiated 453 regular season games and 22 playoff games. He also officiated the 2010 NBA All-Star Rookie/Sophmore game. Prior to working in the NBA, Goble officiated 104 games
over four seasons in the NBA D-League and was selected to officiate the 2007 Finals. He also officiated in several college conferences, including the Southeastern Conference, where he was a tournament official in 2006 and 2007, and the Sunshine State Conference.
In the past, Goble has been good in some games and terrible in others. He was the referee who called the clothesline on Barbosa in a Nets game 2 seasons ago a regular foul. He also called a foul at the end of that game on an obvious clean steal that could have changed the outcome of the game. In a Clippers game last season, he ignored fouls by the Clippers and called phantom fouls on the Celtics all game. Tommy made the comment that the Celtics had no shot to win after the officiating took over. This season against the Timberwolves, the officiating was terrible and the Wolves shot 32 free throws to 9 for the Celtics. The Celtics are 2-2 this season and 4-6 in their last 10 games with Goble and the Pacers are 1-4 this season and 2-8 in their last 10. His home W/L record is 37-21.
Steve Anderson enters his second NBA season having officiated 45 regular season games. He joined the full-time staff in 2013-14 after six seasons as a referee in the NBA D-League and already having officiated 18 regular season NBA games as a non-staff official. Anderson officiated the FIBA U19 World Championships in the Czech Republic in 2013. This season in a game vs the Nets, the officiating was one sided toward the Nets and Brooklyn took 30 free throws to 14 for the Celtics and that was after they tried to even it up down the stretch. The Celtics are 4-1 this season and 5-5 over Anderson's career while the Pacers are 0-4 this season and 3-4 over Anderson's career. His home W/L record is 28-21.
Over the past 14 seasons, Courtney Kirkland has officiated 852 regular season games and six playoff games. He also officiated two seasons in the WNBA, including the 2000 WNBA Finals and the 1999 Conference Finals. Kirkland also officiated the 2010 and 2011 Venezuelan LPB basketball championships. Prior to joining the NBA, Kirkland worked three seasons in the CBA where he officiated the 1999 and 2000 CBA Finals as well as the 2000 CBA All-Star Game. He was a high school official for four years as a member of the Baton Rouge (La.) Basketball Officials Association and was named Rookie Official of the Year in 1994.
Kirkland earned some measure of notoriety when he jumped in to block a Kris Humphries free throw in a Nets game last season. This season in a game vs the Grizzlies, there were quite a few terrible calls. One of the worst was when the ball hit the rim and the Celtics tipped it in and they called a 24 second violation without checking on the monitors in spite of pleas by every Celtic to do so. There were a lot of head scratching calls and non-calls in that game. The Celtics are 3-0 this season and 3-7 in their last 10 games that Kirkland officiated. He can be good or bad depending on the game. The Pacers are 1-1 this season and 5-5 in their last 10 games with Kirkland. His home W/L record this season is 28-24.
Celtics host the Indiana Pacers looking to win the season series and move a step closer to winning the 8th seed in the playoffs.