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Celtics visit the Indiana Pacers looking to tie the season series

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Celtics travel to Indiana for the 4th and final meeting with the Indiana Pacers, with both teams needing a win for playoff seeding.

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

at
Boston Celtics (39-27) at Indiana Pacers (35-31)
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
7:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #67, Road Game #33
TV: CSNNE, FSI, NBA-LP 750(DTV)/752(xfinity)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, 1070 The Fan
Bankers Life Fieldhouse

Referees: Jason Phillips, Karl Lane, Josh Tiven

The Celtics travel to Indiana for their fourth and final game of the season agains the Pacers. The Pacers lead the series 2-1, and the Celtics would like to tie the series. The Pacers won 100-98 in Indiana in the Celtics' first road game of the season. The Pacers won 102-91 in Boston in November, and the Celtics won 103-94 in Boston in January.

The Celtics are playing in the first of a back-to-back set, returning home to play the Thunder on Wednesday. The Celtics are 8-7 overall in the first of back-to-back games, and they are 3-3 in games when the first game is on the road and the second is at home. The Celtics are 16-16 on the road while the Pacers are 19-11 at home. The Pacers have won 4 out of the last 5 in Indiana.

Both teams are coming off a loss in their last game. The Pacers lost by 29 points in Atlanta on Sunday. The Celtics haven't played since Friday when they lost 102-98 to the Rockets at home. After their loss to the Hawks, George Hill hinted that there are some players on his team that prioritize individual goals over team ones. That could cause some friction and chemistry problems, or it could straighten out their problems.

The Celtics remain in 3rd but just half a game ahead of Miami, who beat Denver on Monday. They are 1.5 games ahead of Atlanta (5th) and 2 ahead of Charlotte (6th) and 4 games ahead of the Pacers (7th). Indiana is 1.5 games ahead of Chicago (8th) and Detroit (9th). Needless to say, this game has playoff positioning implications, and both teams need to to get the win.

Kelly Olynyk is targeting this game for his return from the shoulder injury. He is listed as a game-time decision. Jae Crowder is out with a high ankle sprain, and that will be a big blow to the Celtics. Evan Turner, who played 25 not-very-productive games with the Pacers last season, is expected to get the start in Jae's place.

The Pacers are dealing with some minor injury issues of their own. George Hill was mostly ineffective against the Hawks on Sunday due to a sore toe. He is day-to-day but will probably play. Rodney Stuckey missed Sunday with a sore foot and is also day-to-day. Ty Lawson left Sunday's game with a sore foot and is questionable for this game. CJ Miles is just 2 games back from a calf injury and is working his way back into shape.

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard

vs
Isaiah Thomas vs George Hill

Shooting Guard

vs
Avery Bradley vs Monta Ellis

Small Forward
vs
Evan Turner vs Paul George

Power Forward

vs
Amir Johnson vs Myles Turner

Center
vs
Jared Sullinger vs Ian Mahinmi


Celtics Reserves
RJ Hunter
Jonas Jerebko
Jared Sullinger
Jordan Mickey
Terry Rozier
Marcus Smart
James Young
Kelly Olynyk

Head Coach
Brad Stevens

Injuries
Kelly Olynyk (shoulder) game time decision
Jae Crowder (ankle) out


Pacers Reserves
Lavoy Allen
Rakeem Christmas
Jordan Hill
Solomon Hill
Rodney Stuckey
CJ Miles
Shayne Whittington
Joe Young
Glen Robinson III

Head Coach

Frank Vogel

Injuries

George Hill (toe) day to day
Ty Lawson (foot) questionable
Rodney Stuckey (foot) day to day



Key Matchups
vs
Isaiah Thomas vs George Hill
Hill is averaging 12.2 points, 3.5 assists and 1.2 steals per game. He is also shooting 40.3% from beyond the arc and is a threat from both inside and out. He shot just 2-for-8 against the Hawks due to the sore toe and is a game-time decision. With their next two point guards also struggling with injuries, it's not clear who will start.

vs
Evan Turner vs Paul George
George is having a great year, averaging 23.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.8 steals per game. He is shooting 37.8% 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. When told that he was likely to start and have the job of defending Paul George, the ever quotable Turner said, "Oh sh**! I didn't even think about that!" So, hopefully he is preparing himself for the challenge. We may see Marcus Smart on George if Turner struggles to defend him.

Honorable Mention
Avery Bradley vs Monta Ellis
Ellis is averaging 14.5 points, 3.2 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.8 steals per game. Ellis is capable of putting up big numbers if he is not defended well. On the other hand, Ellis gets lazy on defense at times, and Avery might have a big game if he is hitting his open shots.

Keys to the Game
Make Some Shots - The Celtics' biggest problem against the Rockets was their inability to hit shots they usually make. They missed them all - layups, mid-range, and long distance - shooting just 37% from the field and 25% from beyond the arc. They all struggled, and if they merely play to their average level this time around, they should have a much better game.

Rebound - Especially if either team is struggling to make shots, the Celtics must 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 allowed the Rockets to out-rebound them 50-45. The Celtics 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 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 they have been allowing too many easy shots in recent games. The Pacers are 8th in the league in allowing 100.5 points per game. 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 being 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 Jae Factor - The Celtics have not played without Jae Crowder this season, who has started every game this far. Jae is important to the Celtics on both ends of the court. He is the second-highest scorer as well as one of the best defenders, able to take on the opponent's best player in every game. The Celtics will need every player to step up their games on both ends of the court to make up for his loss.

Officiating Factor- As I have said every game, officiating is always an X-factor. Will the refs let them play or call every little ticky-tack foul? Will they call it even or favor one of the teams? Will they even be competent in making the calls? The officiating is always like Forrest Gump's box of candy. You never know what you are going to get.

Official Report
Jason Phillips

Jason Phillips has officiated 824 regular season games and 27 playoff games since joining the NBA officiating staff 13 seasons ago. In addition, Phillips has six seasons of experience officiating in the CBA, working the 1999 CBA Finals. He also officiated three seasons in the WNBA, working the 1999 WNBA Finals. Phillips spent five years officiating at the high school level in his home state of Texas. Phillips earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree at Tarleton State. In addition, he played varsity basketball, golf and baseball while at Cisco High School in Texas.

The Celtics are 0-1 this season and 4-6 over their last 10 games with Phillips as a ref. The officiating was fairly even in most of the games last season. In the game in OKC the Celtics shot 20 free throws to 33 for the Thunder and there were more than a few questionable calls. It was Phillips that got Tommy to swear on the air last season in a game against Houston about the refs falling for all the blank blank flops. Phillips was the lead official for a game vs the Bulls where the Celtics shot 11 free throws to 40 for the Bulls. The officiating was terrible and one-sided. Tommy described it this way, "This was an abomination. It wasn't even close to a decently officiated game." The Pacers are 1-2 this season and are 3-7 in their last 10 games with Phillips. He is a homer ref with a home W/L record this season of 38-11.

Karl Lane

Karl Lane enters his fourth year having officiated 159 regular season games. Lane’s experience includes four seasons and 167 games officiated in the D-League. He also has four seasons of NBA preseason game experience and worked in NBA summer camps for six years. In addition to his professional experience, Lane officiated collegiate games for nine years in the SWAC and Gulf South Conference and has nine years of high school officiating experience.

Lane isn't one of Tommy's favorite refs. But then again, who is? Two seasons ago vs the Cavs, Lane got under Tommy's skin a bit and after 3 bad calls in a row, Tommy said "This guy doesn't have a clue. His name's Lane. They should show him the highway." In a win over the Bulls, the officiating was terrible and Lane once again got under Tommy's skin after 3 terrible calls in a row. Then to top it off, with 6.2 seconds left, he made another bad call that fouled Avery out, prompting Tommy to yell" I don't recall a game when there was such a plethora of terrible calls throughout." The Celtics are 1-0 this season and 5-5 in their last 10 games with Lane while the Pacers are 2-1 this season and 6-4 in their last 10. Lane's home W/L record is 27-16.

Josh Tiven

Joshua Tiven is entering his fifth NBA season having officiated 227 NBA games and one playoff game. Tiven has seven years of NCAA officiating experience, as well as two years of WNBA officiating experience and two seasons of WNBA Playoff experience. He also has worked three NBA D-League Finals, as well as the 2007-08 NBA D-League All-Star Game.

Tiven lives in Connecticut and he has a twin brother who is a big Celtics fan and who has been shown in the crowd at the Garden when Tiven was officiating. Tiven also has little controversy in his time in the league and has been fairly good in the games he has called for the Celtics. In the game this season vs the Spurs, however, the officiating was one-sided toward the Spurs with the Spurs allowed a lot of contact and the Celtics called for any contact. In spite of the Celtics being aggressive with 52 points in the paint to 38 for the Spurs, the Celtics shot just 14 free throws to 15 for the Spurs. At the half the free throws were 14-3 in favor of the Spurs. He called a game against the Wizards that was terribly officiated at the end but most of the bad calls were made by Tony Brothers, who was the lead referee. The Celtics are 3-1 this season and 8-2 over their last 10 games with Tiven. The Pacers are 1-5 this season and 3-7 in their last 10 games with Tiven. He is a homer ref with a home W/L record this season of 37-15.