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Celtics look for their 4th straight win as they visit the Pacers

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The Celtics look to close out their 3 game road trip with a win over the Indiana Pacers at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

at
Boston Celtics (16-12) at Indiana Pacers (15-15)
Thursday, December 22, 2016
7:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #29, Road Game #18
TV: CSNNE, FSI, NBA-LP 754(DTV)/755(xfinity)
Radio: 100.7 WZLX, 1070 The Fan
Bankers Life Fieldhouse

Referees: Tom Washington, Bennie Adams, Nick Buchert

The Celtics look to go 3-0 on their road trip as they make their second visit to face the Pacers in Indiana. The Celtics won the first meeting 105-99 at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in November. They will meet one more time in Boston in March.

In the Celtics win in November, neither team was at full strength. Paul George missed that game for personal reasons. The Celtics were without both Jae Crowder, who was out with a sprained ankle, and also Al Horford, who was out with a concussion. The Celtics should be at full strength for this game. Monta Ellis (groin) and Rodney Stuckey (hamstring) are both listed as questionable.

The Celtics are looking for their fourth straight win while the Pacers are looking to get back in the win column after a loss to the Knicks in their last game. The Pacers have played well at home with a 11-4 record there and the Celtics are 10-7 on the road. The Celtics are 6-4 in their last 10 games while the Pacers are 5-5 in their last 10.

The Celtics are playing in the first of back to back games. They will complete the back to back set on Friday at the Garden against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Celtics are 4-1 in the first game of back to back games. This is the first time the back to back is starting on the road.

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard

vs
Isaiah Thomas vs Jeff Teague

Shooting Guard

vs
Avery Bradley vs Glen Robinson

Small Forward
vs
Jae Crowder vs Paul George

Power Forward

vs
Al Horford 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
Marcus Smart
Kelly Olynyk
Demetrius Jackson

Injuries
None

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) questionable
Monta Ellis (groin) questionable

Head Coach
Nate McMillan

Key Matchups
vs
Isaiah Thomas vs Jeff Teague
Jeff Teague is averaging 15.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 1.9 steals 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. Teague had 20 points in the first game while Isaiah had 23.

vs
Jae Crowder vs Paul George
George is having a great year, averaging 21.8 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.8 steals per game. Neither Crowder nor George played in the first game between these two teams. Jae is at his best when guarding the other team's best player and so hopefully he can keep George from having a big game.

Honorable Mention
Amir Johnson vs Myles Turner
Turner is averaging 15.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 2.5 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.
Danny Ainge vs Larry Bird
Although they aren't playing in the game, this is a matchup of 1980's Celtics. Bird and Ainge are Celtics' legends and champions and now, as GM's their teams are battling for supremacy in the East. I guess the winner gets bragging rights for a bit.

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. Indiana averages 42.5 rebounds while the Celtics average 42.0 rebounds per game. If the Celtics give an extra effort they should be able to win the battle of the boards.

Be Aggressive
- The Celtics must be aggressive on defense, in going after loose balls, in grabbing rebounds, 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 can score from the outside and so the Celtics must close out their shooters beyond the arc. They also must play tough defense in the paint as the Pacers have players who can get to the basket. The Celtics have to make playing tough defense a priority.

Take Care of the Ball - The Pacers are 4th in the league with 8.4 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
On the Road and Fatigue - The Celtics are playing in the final game of a 3 game road trip. With all the games and travel, players are tired by the end of the trip. The Celtics need to block out the distractions of travel and playing on the road and focus on playing their game.

Officiating - Officiating can always be an x-factor. In a lot of games the officiating isn't a factor. But there are some where the officiating completely tilts the game in one direction or the other. Which will the Celtics get in this game? It's always a possibility to have to play against a bias toward the home team when playing on the road.