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Celtics look to sweep the season series from the Indiana Pacers

The Celtics host the Indiana Pacers for the 3rd and final time this season. With victories in the first two games in Indiana, the Celtics are looking to sweep the series for the first time since the 2007-08 season.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

at
Indiana Pacers (36-34) at Boston Celtics (45-26)
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #72, Home Game #34
TV: CSNNE, FSI, NBA-LP 753(DTV)/753(xfinity)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, WFNI
TD Garden
Referees: Tom Washington, Brian Forte, Justin Van Duyne


The Celtics continue their 6 game home stand with a visit from the Indiana Pacers. The Celtics are 2-0 vs the Pacers this season, winning both games in Indiana. The Celtics won 109 -102 in Indiana on December 22. They also won 105-99 on November 12, also in Indiana. This is their 3rd and final meeting this season.

The Celtics are looking to sweep the season series for the first time since the 2007-08 season. But, it won't be easy because the Pacers have been playing on another level since the All Star break. They have held teams to 98.8 points (2nd) on 43.9% shooting (3rd) and 30.9% from beyond the arc (3rd) since the All Star break.
However, since February 16, the Pacers have had a rather strange pattern. They have alternated wins and losses every other game. They have followed every win with a loss since February 16. That is 7 losses followed by 7 wins. The Pacers beat the Jazz on Monday, which would mean that if this pattern continues, they are due for a loss in this one. Hopefully the Celtics won't just expect a loss and will show the same fight they showed against the Wizards.

Both teams are reporting no injuries at this time. The Celtics' starting 5 is expected to all finally be healthy with the return of Isaiah Thomas for Monday's game against the Wizards. The Pacers are also reporting no injuries and are playing very well together. Both teams are coming off a win and looking for their second straight victory.

The Celtics are 6-4 in their last 10 games while the Pacers are 5-5 in their last 10. The Celtics are 24-9 at home while the Pacers have struggled somewhat on the road with an 11-24 record. The Celtics need to get a win in this game to keep pace with the Wizards who will likely get a win against the Hawks.


Standings Reset
The Celtics are 2 games behind the Cavs who were idle on Monday and Tuesday. The Celtics have moved to 2.5 games ahead of the Wizards by virtue of their win over them on Monday. The Celtics are 3 games ahead of Toronto, who beat the Bulls on Tuesday night, and 7.5 games ahead of the Hawks.

Games to Watch
3/22 Atlanta at Washington, Cleveland at Denver


Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard

vs
Isaiah Thomas vs Jeff Teague

Shooting Guard

vs
Avery Bradley vs CJ Miles

Small Forward
vs
Jae Crowder vs Paul George

Power Forward

vs
Amir Johnson vs Thaddeus Young

Center
vs
Al Horford 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
Monta Ellis
Al Jefferson
Georges Niang
Glenn Robinson !!!
Kevin Seraphin
Rodney Stuckey
Joe Young

Injuries

None

Head Coach
Nate McMillan

Key Matchups
vs
Isaiah Thomas vs Jeff Teague
Jeff Teague is averaging 15.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, 7.9 assists and 1.3 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 and 4 assists in the first game between them and then had 31 points and 8 assists in the second game between these two teams. The Celtics will need to defend Teague well and so we may see Avery defending him if he starts to have a big game.

vs
Jae Crowder vs Paul George
George is having a great year, averaging 22.3 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Neither Crowder nor George played in the first game between these two teams. Both played in the second meeting and Jae hell PG13 to 19 points in 41 minutes of play. In addition, George shot 31% from the field and was 0-3 from beyond the arc. 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
Al Horford vs Myles Turner
Turner is averaging 14.7 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks (good for 4th in the league in blocks). He will give the Celtics problems in the paint on both ends. Al has to find a way to box him out and keep him away from the basket. He also has to hit his outside shots to draw him out of the paint on defense.

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 41.8 rebounds per game, which is the same as the Celtics. Against the Wizards, the Celtics showed that they can win the rebounding battle when they put the effort into it and they will need to do the same in this one.

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, shooting 37.3% from beyond the arc, and so the Celtics must close out their shooters on the outside. 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. Since the All Star break, the Pacers have gone to another level on defense, holding opponents to 98.8 points, good for 2nd in the league. The Celtics must match their effort on the defensive end.

Take Care of the Ball - The Pacers are 10th in the league with 8.1 steals per game and have been 9th in forcing turnovers since the All Star break so the Celtics must focus on making good passes and be aware of the Pacers ability to close out the passing lanes. If the Celtics get careless, the Pacers will make them pay.

X-Factors
Home Stand - The Celtics are playing in the 2nd of 6 straight home games. They need to draw strength and motivation from the home crowd. Also, the Pacers haven't been a strong road team and so the Celtics need to come out strong and take advantage of being at home.

Focus - The Celtics have to stay focused on the goal of getting the highest seed they can. They have to focus on playing Celtics team ball and not let that falter. The win over the Wizards will mean little if they lose this one. They have to focus on taking good shots and on playing tough lock down defense.

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? Sometimes they call the game tight and others they let them play. The Celtics need to play through any bad or no calls and not let it get to them.