Watch It! – Celtics at Pacers
Here are five things to watch out for when the Boston Celtics and the Indiana Pacers meet at 7:00 p.m. tonight at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
A Change of Pace
The Boston Celtics opened the season with a three-game homestand, but seemed to be caught in a rut during the last two contests. Perhaps getting away from TD Garden will be a beneficial change of scenery for the C’s.
Tonight they’ll open up their road slate in Indiana, when they take on on the Pacers at 7:00 p.m. Dating back to last season, Boston has won seven straight regular season road matchups; meanwhile, Indiana has lost both of its home contests at Bankers Life Fieldhouse this season.
Momentum vs. Rest
The Pacers started their campaign 0-3, but reeled off their first win last night against the previously unbeaten Detroit Pistons. They’re entering this game on a high note, but could be disadvantaged given that it is their second game in as many nights.
The C’s on the other hand have not played since Sunday, so those two days off should have them well rested with clear minds for this one.
Celts Must Find their Stroke
Hopefully those extra days off can get Boston back on track from a shooting perspective. During their last two games against Toronto and San Antonio, respectively, the C’s shot a combined 36.6 percent from the field, including just 13-of-55 from 3-point land.
Boston's leading scorer Isaiah Thomas is usually either very hot or very cold when facing Indiana. His 11.7 career scoring average against the Pacers is his lowest mark against any team in the league, yet he tied a career high with 38 points against this team two seasons ago.
Thomas and the C's will look to crack through Indiana’s defense, which held Detroit to just 38.4 percent shooting last night, including a 22.7 percent clip from beyond the arc.
The Return of a Star
A bolster to that Pacers defense has been the return of Paul George. Indiana’s star player missed all but the final six games of last season after suffering a gruesome leg injury in the summer of 2014.
During the previous season, he had been named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team. He had Boston’s number during that campaign, averaging 22.5 points and 5.5 rebounds over a four-game span.
Through the first quartet of games this season, George is averaging 16.8 points per game, along with team highs in rebounds per game (8.0) and assists per game (5.0).
Watch Your Handles
No teams have been able to match the thievery skills of Boston and Indiana so far this season.
The Celtics are leading the league with 11.3 steals per game, and Indiana is right behind them, averaging 11.0. On the flip side, both offenses have been prone to coughing the ball up. Boston and Indiana have allowed 10.7 and 10.3 steals per game, respectively, trailing only Oklahoma City’s league-worst mark of 11.8.
Keep an eye out for Boston’s top ball hawks, Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart and Isaiah Thomas, along with Indiana’s George Hill and C.J. Miles. Those players account for five of the league’s 17 who are averaging at least 2.0 steals per game.