Countdown to Tipoff: Pacers vs. Boston


Countdown to Tipoff: Pacers vs. Boston

SCOUTING THE PACERS: Two losses in a row to sub-.500 teams have dropped the Pacers to within the clutches of the teams chasing them for the final playoff spot in the East. At 32-42, Indiana is just one game up on Charlotte (30-42) and two on Milwaukee (29-43). Having played 11 of their last 15 on the road, with five sets of back-to-backs, the Pacers now have three in a row at home – and no more back-to-backs on the schedule. Having some time to practice could work wonders for a team that has battled inconsistency under interim coach Frank Vogel. In six March wins, they've averaged 110.3 points while holding opponents to 100.7. In 10 March losses, they've scored just 90.4 points while yielding 106.1. Their top players also have struggled, as Danny Granger is averaging 18.9 points and shooting 36.9 percent this month and Darren Collison has slumped to 8-of-28 (.286) shooting in the last three games.

SCOUTING THE CELTICS: Boston's defense has proven indefatigable for the Pacers this season. In winning the first three matchups by double figures, the Celtics have held the Pacers to an average of 83.7 points on 36.6 percent shooting. Indiana has scored no more than 88 and shot no better than .375 in any of the games. With Coach Doc Rivers committed to giving his frontline veterans as much rest as possible down the stretch to keep them fresh for the playoffs, the Celtics have all-but ceded the top spot in the East to Chicago and are currently embroiled in a duel with Miami for the second and third spots.

KEY MATCHUP: Indiana's offense must find a way to generate quality shots against Boston's often suffocating defense. The Pacers must be active moving the ball and themselves to get the offense going. They don't have to rack up a big number to beat Boston, but they'll need to break out of the 80s.

QUOTE MARKS: "We are getting away from our spacing a little bit, we aren’t running the floor as well, maybe we are tired from the month of March. But it is no excuse we have to play to win every game. We need to push the tempo, we aren’t spacing well, we aren’t screening well enough and we are holding the ball too much." – Vogel

INJURY REPORT: For the Pacers, Mike Dunleavy (broken left thumb) is out. For the Celtics, Jermaine O’Neal (sore left knee), Shaquille O’Neal (sore right leg), Von Wafer (strained right calf), Troy Murphy (sprained right ankle) are out, and Rajon Rondo (jammed finger) is day-to-day.

TICKETS: Buy now.

BROADCAST INFO: The game will be telecast at 7 p.m. on Fox Sports Indiana with Chris Denari and Quinn Buckner calling the game and Stacy Paetz on the sideline, with a pre-game show starting at 7. The radio broadcast is anchored by the flagship of the Pacers' network, WIBC 93 FM, featuring Mark Boyle and Austin Croshere, with Kevin Lee reporting.

INTERACT: You can chat live with fans around the country in our live game blog which begins at tipoff.