vs.
45-37 Record 44-38
101.3 PPG 93.0
100.4 PPGO 92.2
46.8 FG% 43.2
44.4 Opp. FG% 44.0
1.28 PPS 1.24
1.23 PPSO 1.21
40.8 Rebounds 40.1
22.1 Assists 18.2
15.8 Turnovers 14.3
8.1 Steals 7.5
5.2 Blocks 4.4
1 Season Series 2
Celtics Playoff Central »

For the third consecutive postseason, the Celtics will face the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the playoffs. Both teams have undergone significant changes: for the C's, there is a new head coach, Doc Rivers, the return of forward Antoine Walker, a healthy Raef LaFrentz, the veteran leadership of point guard Gary Payton, and a host of young, talented players in Al Jefferson, Tony Allen, Kendrick Perkins, Marcus Banks and Delonte West.

The Pacers have been plagued by injuries this season to key players. They have also lost All-Star Ron Artest to a season-long suspension, in addition to Jermaine O'Neal and Stephen Jackson for a considerable portion of the season. Through all the adversity, Reggie Miller and Head Coach Rick Carlisle have continued to lead this team into the playoffs.

As the C's prepare to face O'Neal, Miller and company, below is a break down of this playoff match up that has become a familiar to one Celtics fans.



POINT GUARD
Gary Payton Gary Payton
Points: 11.3
Rebounds: 3.1
Assists: 6.4
Jamaal Tinsley Jamaal Tinsley
Points: 15.4
Rebounds: 4.0
Assists: 6.4
The Pacers hope that point guard Jamaal Tinsley can return from a bruised left foot, an injury that has sidelined him for the past 25 games. Earlier this season, it was Tinsley who helped keep the Pacers afloat while they missed key players by averaging career-high's in points, field goal percentage, and three-point field goal percentage, and helped defeat the Celtics in both of their losses to the Pacers – dishing out five assists in one game and scoring 29 points to go along with six assists in the other. If Tinsley is not healthy enough to return or play at 100%, look for Anthony Johnson to step in and try to contain Gary Payton at the point.


SHOOTING GUARD
Tony Allen Tony Allen
Points: 6.4
Rebounds:2.9
Assists: 0.8
Reggie Miller Reggie Miller
Points: 14.8
Rebounds: 2.4
Assists: 0.76
Future Hall of Fame guard Reggie Miller has been known to shine in the playoffs, which could prove to be a challenge for either rookie Head Coach Doc Rivers decides to match up against him: Tony Allen or Delonte West. West had been starting recently in place of Allen until a sprained left hand sidelined him; so it will be interesting to see who Doc decides to start against Miller, as Delonte and Reggie tend to have similar game characteristics.


SMALL FORWARD
Paul Pierce Paul Pierce
Points: 21.6
Rebounds: 6.6
Assists: 4.2
Stephen Jackson Stephen Jackson
Points: 18.7
Rebounds: 4.9
Assists: 2.3
The Celtics can establish an early advantage at this position if they go to Paul Pierce often as he will be matched up against either Stephen Jackson or James Jones. While Jackson may seem to be the immediate threat, the C's cannot overlook Jones, as he scored 20 points and pulled down 10 boards in the Pacers win in November. If Pierce can establish his presence and get his teammates involved, this match up should be a huge advantage for the Celtics.


POWER FORWARD
Antoine Walker Antoine Walker
Points: 16.3
Rebounds: 8.3
Assists: 3.0
Jermaine O'Neal Jermaine O'Neal
Points: 24.3
Rebounds: 8.8
Assists: 1.9
This should be a fun match up to watch, as Jermaine O'Neal, returning from a sprained right shoulder, will face Antoine Walker for the first time since ‘Toine returned to the C's. A key for Walker and the Celtics will be to grab offensive rebounds and prevent O'Neal from getting second-chance points and spark a fast-break tempo that Boston can control.


CENTER
Raef LaFrentz Raef LaFrentz
Points: 11.1
Rebounds: 6.9
Assists: 1.2
Jeff Foster Jeff Foster
Points: 7.0
Rebounds: 9.0
Assists: 0.7
An area where the Celtics can take advantage of the Pacers' lack of consistency is at the center position. The Pacers have been rotating a starting lineup of Scot Pollard, Jeff Foster and Dale Davis over the past 40 games, so regardless of who starts for Indiana, it will be up to Raef LaFrentz to control the momentum on the boards. In two games against the Pacers earlier this season, LaFrentz led the C's in rebounds, including pulling down a game high 11 in a 100-86 victory at the FleetCenter in January. The big difference in whether the Celtics are able to defeat Indiana in the postseason could come down to which team can control the ball better off the glass.


BENCH
While the Celtics bench has been enormous this season, the Pacers bench has gained invaluable experience out of necessity. While the suspensions and injuries were unfortunate, players such as Austin Croshere and Fred Jones were able to benefit by increased playing time. Yet the advantage would seem to point towards the Celtics, who have the consistent play of Ricky Davis, a leading candidate for the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year award. In addition, young stars Marcus Banks, Al Jefferson, Kendrick Perkins, Justin Reed and Delonte West have flourished throughout the season, while Mark Blount has adjusted nicely to coming off the bench since the return of Walker. The move of Blount to the second unit has helped the rest of the squad benefit from the improved play, especially defensively.


Compiled by Farra D'Orazio
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