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Celtics look to continue winning ways as they visit the Pacers

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The Celtics seemed to find their defensive swagger as they beat the Knicks on Friday. Now they look to continue that defensive mindset as they visit the Pacers.

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

at
Boston Celtics (4-4) at Indiana Pacers (4-5)
Saturday, November 12, 2016
7:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #9, Road Game #5
TV: CSNNE, FSI, NBA-LP 752(DTV)/752(xfinity)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, 1070 The Fan
Bankers Life Fieldhouse

Referees: Sean Corbin, Kevin Cutler, Kane Fitzgerald

The Celtics begin a 2 game road trip with a visit to the Indiana Pacers. Both the Celtics and the Pacers are playing on the second night of back to back games. The Pacers lost in overtime in Philadelphia on Friday night and the Celtics beat the Knicks at home so both teams also travel overnight. The Celtics will complete the road trip on Monday when they travel to New Orleans to face the Pelicans.

Brad Stevens shook up the starting lineup against the Knicks with good results. They had Gino time for the first time this season after a 115-87 win over the Knicks. I expect Smart to start at small forward again in this game. If Horford plays, he may start in place of Kelly or he may come off the bench to ease him back in since Kelly played very well against the Knicks. .

Indiana has struggled on the road so far this season, losing their first 5 games away from home. They have played strong at home, however, winning all 4 games played there. The Celtics have also struggled somewhat on the road, going 1-3 away from TD Garden so far.

The Celtics were expected to be second in the East with just the Cavs better than them. The Pacers were the team that everyone expected to be the surprise team in the East. The Celtics have struggled with injuries to key players while the Pacers are struggling to integrate new players, with former Celtic, Al Jefferson, being one of those new players.

Jae Crowder is expected to miss his 5th game in a row with a sprained ankle and is not expected back until possibly Wednesday when the Celtics return to the Garden to face the Mavericks. Al Horford traveled with the team to Indiana which means that there is a possibility that he will play in this game, which would be a very welcome return for the Celtics. Rodney Stuckey is out for the Pacers with a hamstring injury.

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard

vs
Isaiah Thomas vs Jeff Teague

Shooting Guard

vs
Avery Bradley vs Monta Ellis

Small Forward
vs
Marcus Smart vs Paul George

Power Forward

vs
Kelly Olynyk vs Thaddeus Young

Center
vs
Amir Johnson vs Myles Turner




Celtics Reserves
Jaylen Brown
Gerald Green
Jordan Mickey
Terry Rozier
James Young
Jonas Jerebko
Tyler Zeller

Injuries
Al Horford (concussion) possible
Jae Crowder (ankle) out
Demetrius Jackson (Red Claws) out

Head Coach
Brad Stevens


Pacers Reserves
Lavoy Allen
Aaron Brooks
Rakeem Christmas
Al Jefferson
CJ Miles
Georges Niang
Glenn Robinson
Kevin Seraphin
Joe Young

Injuries

Rodney Studkey (hamstring) out

Head Coach
Nate McMillan
Key Matchups
vs
Isaiah Thomas vs Jeff Teague
Jeff Teague is averaging 13.6 points, 3.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game. He is new to the Pacers this season, but has always had big games against the Celtics when he was with the Hawks. Perhaps Horford can give the Isaiah some tips on how to handle him.

vs
Marcus Smart vs Paul George
George is having a great year, averaging 21.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game. He is shooting 44.9% from beyond the arc. This is where the Celtics will miss Jae the most. He always took on the job of guarding the opposing best player. Smart gives up 5 inches to George but hopefully he can use his strength to keep George off balance somewhat.

Honorable Mention
Amir Johnson vs Myles Turner
Turner is averaging 16.3 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks. He will give the Celtics problems in the paint on both ends. Amir has to find a way to box him out and keep him away from the basket.

Keys to the Game
Rebound - The Celtics must box out and crash the boards. They can't score without the ball and it will take extra effort on their part to grab the rebounds. The Celtics have been out-rebounded by double digits in their blowout losses and they can't let up 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. They can't let the Pacers be the team that works harder.

Play Defense
- Defense wins games. The Pacers are shooting 39% 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 they have been allowing too many easy shots in recent games. The Celtics have to make playing tough defense a priority.

Take Care of the Ball - The Pacers are 4th in the league with 9.5 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. Also, if the Celtics get careless, the Pacers will make them pay with fast break points.

X-Factors
The Injury Factor - The Celtics have struggled since Al Horford and Jae Crowder went down with injuries. Al Horford traveled with the team to Indiana and there is a good chance that he may play in this game. They will still miss Jae Crowder, but Al's return would give the Celtics a big boost, even though he will be rusty.

Fatigue
- Both teams are playing on the second night of back to back games. Both teams had to travel overnight. The Celtics are on the road, though while the Pacers are home. The Celtics starters were able to get some rest in the 4th quarter of their win over the Knicks while the Pacers game went into overtime, causing them to have to play extra minutes. Fatigue may be a factor and whichever team handles it better will get the win.