The Boston Celtics will get their first look of the season at the Pacers tonight in Indiana; a game that could be a possible playoff preview. The Celtics come in on a hot streak with 4 straight wins, and two days after knocking off the previously undefeated Bucks in Boston. However, the Pacers will be a sturdy test for the Celtics, as they currently own the 7th best point differential in the NBA, and third in the East behind Milwaukee and Toronto.
The Pacers hope to have homecourt advantage in the playoffs this year and have a tall order ahead of them to match last years pace. The Pacers returned most of their important players from last year, and added the 6MOY candidate Tyreke Evans and sharpshooter Doug McDermott to replace Lance Stephenson and Trevor Booker. All eyes will once again be on Victor Oladipo as last year’s MIP faces the challenge of leading his team yet again and holding off any signs of regression. So far so good for Oladipo, who remains the Pacers’ offensive engine with a 55% true shooting rate on a massive 30% USG rating. Look for the Celtics to force the ball out of Oladipo’s hands.
Jaylen Brown plans to play tonight after missing Thursday’s game against the Bucks. Although it’s been a tough start to the year for Brown, his return is welcomed against an Indiana team that grinds out some old school basketball. The Pacers are currently 29th in Pace in the NBA to go with their 7th ranked defense, so the Celtics may try to take the Pacers out of their comfort zone by running before their defense can get set up.
The Pacers have the ability to go big and young when they place Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis on the floor, it will interesting to see if Brad Stevens chooses to match up or stay small when those lineups are out there. Al Horford will likely see the majority of the work on Turner, as the Pacers big has the rare mix of rim protection and 3 point shooting which will require Horford’s mobility.
This should be a fun game and gives the Celtics a chance to separate from the Eastern Conference middle class into the top tier with Toronto and Milwaukee.
PG - Kyrie Irving – Darren Collison
SG - Jaylen Brown – Victor Oladipo
SF - Gordon Hayward – Bojan Bogdanvic
PF - Jayson Tatum – Thaddeus Young
C - Al Horford – Myles Turner
Boston: Daniel Theis (Foot); Jabari Bird (Personal)
How to Watch
Time - 7:00 PM EST
TV - NBATV, NBCSBoston