Countdown to Tipoff: Pacers at Celtics


Jan. 6, 2012 at TD Garden
Countdown to Tipoff: Pacers at Boston

By Conrad Brunner

SCOUTING THE PACERS: Given the extended offseason followed by the hurried, abbreviated training camp and preseason, it is no surprise that offense is lagging behind defense many teams, including the Pacers. That was never more evident than in Miami Wednesday, when the Pacers shot 1-of-15 and committed 10 turnovers in the second period on their way to a 118-83 loss to the shorthanded Heat. Their point total and field goal percentage (.348) were season lows, no mean feat for a team that has shot below 40 percent in five of six games and the 35-point margin of defeat was the widest since a 43-point loss in New York on Jan. 3, 2010. Still, the Pacers (4-2) have a chance to split this four-game road trip, their longest of the season, with a win in Boston. While they have been sharp from long distance, ranking third in the NBA with a 3-point percentage of .406, the Pacers have struggled mightily inside the arc, shooting .401 on two-point attempts. Wings Danny Granger and Paul George have combined to shoot .464 on 3-pointers but just .310 otherwise. Center Roy Hibbert, on the other hand, is shooting a team-high .576 from the field and has four double-doubles but is fourth in the team in shots attempted. The Pacers have lost their last seven games in Boston, a streak that dates back to 2007.

SCOUTING THE CELTICS: Though Boston has followed its 0-3 start with a four-game win streak including an 89-70 rout of the Nets on the road Wednesday, the Celtics still have much to prove because those wins have come against the Wizards (twice), Pistons and a Nets team playing without both Deron Williams (bruised ribs) and Brook Lopez (broken foot). Ray Allen missed the New Jersey game with an undisclosed illness but the Celtics got 24 points, six rebounds and five assists from Paul Pierce and double-doubles from Brandon Bass (15 points, 13 boards) and Kevin Garnett (14 points, 12 boards) while Rajon Rondo had 12 assists. There is plenty of familiarity on the roster with Jermaine O'Neal (6.2 points, 4.0 rebounds) starting at center and Marquis Daniels (4.6 points) coming off the bench. And of course there are the two second-round picks from Purdue, JaJuan Johnson (four games, 14 minutes, four points) and E'Twaun Moore (five games, 19 minutes, five points), who still are learning the ropes.

KEY MATCHUP: Criticized by Allen for choosing to sign with the Pacers instead of the Celtics, David West can make his statement in Boston. West has struggled of late, averaging 10.7 points and 4.7 rebounds on this road trip after posting double-doubles in two of the first three games. Indiana will need his presence inside against Garnett and the Celtics.

Related: West blocks Allen's bad shot

QUOTE MARKS: "They know it’s one game. It's one game and one loss. We know we've got a lot of road games. We’re .500 on the road and we’re 4-2 right now. So, we'll bounce back." -- Pacers Coach Frank Vogel

INJURY REPORT: For the Pacers, G Lance Stephenson (sprained left ankle) is day-to-day. For the Celtics, Ray Allen (ill) missed Wednesday's game.

BROADCAST INFO: The game will be telecast at 7:30 p.m. on Fox Sports Indiana with Chris Denari and Quinn Buckner calling the game with Brooke Olzendam hosting the pre-game show at 7. The radio broadcast is anchored by the flagship of the Pacers' network, WIBC 93 FM, featuring Mark Boyle in his 24th season of play-by-play.