Countdown to Tipoff: Pacers at Celtics 120127

Friday, Jan. 27, 2011 at Boston, 7:30 p.m..

Countdown to Tipoff: Pacers (12-5) at Celtics (8-9)

By Conrad Brunner

SCOUTING THE PACERS: Impressive road victories over the Lakers and Bulls sandwiching a frustrating home loss to Orlando have made for an interesting week. Already owners of two victories over the Celtics (Jan. 6 and Jan. 14), the Pacers will try to win consecutive games in Boston for the first time since 2004. The Indiana defense has been impressive against Boston, limiting the Celtics to averages of 78.5 points and .389 shooting. The offense has been inconsistent but is benefiting from a return to form by Danny Granger, who appears to finally have shed his lengthy shooting slump. In the last four games, he has averaged 20 points on .475 shooting overall including 10-of-18 (.553) from the 3-point line. Roy Hibbert continues to progress, racking up 54 points and 28 rebounds in the last three games. Darren Collison has played well against Rajon Rondo throughout his career and has outscored him 31-20 in two meetings this season.

SCOUTING THE CELTICS: There apparently was nothing wrong with the Celtics that a few injuries to key players couldn't cure. Boston appears to be regaining its form, at least on defense, with three straight wins and four of five. That includes two remarkable conquests of Orlando -- a team that just routed the Pacers -- this week. In the first, the Celtics held the Magic to a franchise record-low 56 points in a 31-point win Monday. Last night, Boston rallied from a 27-point deficit to win 91-83 in Orlando, holding the Magic to 20 points in the second half. In the last five games, Boston has held opponents to an average of 77.0 points. Paul Pierce had a big game in Orlando with 24 points and 10 assists while Purdue rookie E'Twaun Moore gave a big spark off the bench, scoring 16 including four 3-pointers. The Celtics played again without starting guards Rajon Rondo (wrist) and Ray Allen (ankle), while center Jermaine O'Neal sat out with a sore knee.

[Related: Now a grizzled role-player, O'Neal will always identify with Pacers]

KEY MATCHUP: There's little question where Boston's focus will be -- inside. The Pacers have dominated up front in two victories over the Celtics, outscoring them 84-52 in the paint and 49-14 on second-chance points, the latter the result of 34 offensive rebounds.

QUOTE MARKS: "We're a mature team. We're getting better. We're taking it one game at a time, one quarter of a time, one possession at a time, if that makes any sense." - Hibbert

INJURY REPORT: For the Pacers, A.J. Price (strep throat) is day to day, while Jeff Foster (lower back procedure) is out. For the Celtics, Keyon Dooling (sore knee), Chris Wilcox (sore calf), Rajon Rondo (sprained wrist), Ray Allen (jammed ankle), Jermaine O'Neal (knee) and Mickael Pietrus (sore shoulder) are day to day.

BROADCAST INFO: The game will be telecast at 8 p.m. on Fox Sports Indiana with Chris Denari and Quinn Buckner calling the game with Brooke Olzendam hosting the pre-game show at 7:30. 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. Austin Croshere will serve as analyst with Kevin Lee hosting the pre-game and halftime shows.

INTERACT: You can get in-game commentary from this group of Pacers personalities throughout the game on Twitter.