The Celtics are back in action tonight against the Indiana Pacers to conclude their four-game home stand. Boston has been running on all cylinders over the past few games riding a three-game winning streak with an average margin of victory of about 18 points. The Pacers are coming in to Boston after playing last night in Cleveland. It is set up as one of those “schedule losses” for the Pacers that the NBA said they were trying to get rid of, however, they still come up more times than teams would like to see.
Either way, Indiana has been rolling this season sitting with a record of 27-13 and currently the 3-seed in the Eastern Conference. They have the second best defensive rating in the NBA which has been the biggest surprise of this team. Their superstar, Victor Oladipo, is still putting up great numbers scoring 20.0 points per game shooting 43.3% from the field.
The last time these two teams played back in early November, it was Oladipo who hit a dagger three-pointer with 3.4 seconds left to win the game for the Pacers 102-101. He had 24 points in total with an added 16 from Bojan Bogdanovic and 12 from Domantas Sabonis off the bench. Sabonins has been the key off the bench spark for the Pacers which has been a huge reason why this team has had so much success in the first half of this season. He has developed a smooth inside-out game either posting up or shooting long range shots. Him and Myles Turner have been a solid frontcourt for the majority of the season. The Celtics may catch a break as Turner looks to be doubtful for tonight’s contest.
Now, as mentioned with the Celtics, the team has been back to what we expected from them to start the NBA season. They are beating teams they should at home in convincing manner. In addition, during this recent stretch of games, everyone across the roster has been getting involved. Gordon Hayward has continued to score in double digits since his 35-point explosion against Minnesota. Jaylen Brown has finally found his game within his role scoring 21 points against Dallas and being a key part of the Brooklyn game even if it meant only scoring 4 points.
Both of these guys are crucial for the overall success of the team. That should go without being said, but it is just so clear how much more of a complete team the Celtics are when these two guys get involved. They can play off the starters who had been carrying most of the load during the troubling stretch this season.
For tonight, the Celtics need to continue their offensive production averaging 115 points over the past three games. However, what may be more important is that they play better defense to stop the chances Indiana has on offense. The Pacers create offense from good defense, but if the Celtics can take away those opportunities, they have a good chance of winning. It will be a low scoring affair as we saw in the last matchup, so it will be important to cash in on those possessions when they can.
The Celtics will be without Aron Baynes for tonight’s game as he is still battling a hand injury. There is good news on his injury though. Reports are that Baynes is looking to return sometime next week. He still has protection on the hand but he was shooting in warm ups Monday night. For the Pacers, they will be without Myles Turner, as he battles a shoulder injury, and Ike Anigbogu.
Turner will be a big loss for Indiana, but Sabonis will look to get the call again tonight in the starting lineup. It is a struggle at times when he is paired next to Thaddeus Young, but Sabonis can hold down the frontcourt with the absence of Turner.
The Celtics will be trotting out their now normal starting lineup. These guys need to push the pace as much as possible since the Pacers are coming off a road game last night. Indiana may start out sluggish, so Boston needs to jump on them early not letting them have a chance. Look for it to be a low scoring game with the two defenses showing off tonight.
PG – Kyrie Irving – Darren Collison
SG – Marcus Smart – Victor Oladipo
SF – Jayson Tatum – Bojan Bogdanovic
PF – Marcus Morris Sr. – Thaddeus Young
C – Al Horford – Domantas Sabonis
Boston – Aron Baynes (Out, Hand)
Indiana – Myles Turner (Doubtful, Shoulder); Ike Anigbogu (Out, Knee)
How To Watch
Time – 7:00 EST
How To Watch – NBC Sports Boston