Aaron Nesmith
(NBAE/Getty Images)

Game Preview: Pacers vs Celtics

Thursday, Feb. 23 at 7:00 PM ET at Gainbridge Fieldhouse

Pacers vs Celtics
Game Preview

After an eventful All-Star Weekend, the Pacers (26-34) will be back on the court on Thursday night to take on All-Star Game MVP Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics (42-17).

Fresh off his first All-Star appearance, Tyrese Haliburton will be hoping to lead the Blue & Gold on a playoff push over the final 22 games of the regular season. The star point guard -- who turns 23 next week -- will be chasing a number of milestones over the remainder of the season.

Haliburton leads the Pacers in scoring at 19.9 points per game and ranks fourth in the NBA at 10.1 assists per contest. He should shatter Mark Jackson's franchise record for assists per game (8.7 in 1997-98) and is attempting to become the first Pacer ever to win the league assists title.

Haliburton also could join the elite fraternity of players who have averaged 20 points and 10 assists over the course of a season. Just 13 players have ever accomplished that feat -- a list that includes Oscar Robertson, Isiah Thomas, Magic Johnson, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and LeBron James. No one has ever averaged 20 and 10 while shooting 40 percent from 3-point range, but Haliburton has a real shot, entering Thursday with a .399 3-point percentage.

The Celtics have held the NBA's best record for virtually the entire season, but their lead over Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference standings slipped to just a half-game heading into the All-Star break. Still, the Celtics have be considered as one of the title favorites, thanks in no small part to Tatum.

The 24-year-old forward is one of the leading candidates for MVP this season, averaging 30.6 points (sixth in the NBA), 8.6 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game. He will enter Thursday's game with plenty of good vibes after setting the All-Star Game record with 55 points on Sunday, going 10-for-18 from 3-point range.

Of course, the Celtics are more than just a one-man show, asTatum has plenty of help around him. Fellow All-Star Jaylen Brown is averaging a career-best 26.5 points and 7 rebounds per game. Former Pacer Malcolm Brogdon -- who will be making his return to Indiana on Thursday after being traded to Boston over the summer in the deal that sent Aaron Nesmith and Daniel Theis to the Pacers -- has emerged as one of the favorites for Sixth Man of the Year, averaging 14.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game off the bench and leading the NBA in 3-point percentage (.455).

Projected Starters

Pacers: G - Tyrese Haliburton,  G - Andrew Nembhard, F - Buddy Hield, F - Aaron Nesmith, C - Myles Turner

Celtics: G - Marcus Smart, G - Jaylen Brown, F - Jayson Tatum, F - Al Horford, C - Robert Williams III

Injury Report

Pacers: None

Celtics: Danilo Gallinari - out (left knee ACL repair)

Last Meeting

Dec. 21, 2022: The Pacers dropped a season-high 42 points in the first quarter, led by 30 before halftime, and held on down the stretch for a 117-112 road win over the Celtics.

Tyrese Haliburton scored a team-high 33 points and dished out eight assists to lead the Blue & Gold. The third-year point guard went 12-for-24 from the field and 6-for-13 from 3-point range on the night, helping Indiana overcome a 41-point performance by Celtics All-Star forward Jayson Tatum.

"Just playing team basketball," Haliburton told Bally Sports Indiana's Jeremiah Johnson after the win as the key to Indiana's fast start. "Getting stops. That's one of the best teams in the NBA, so you've got to get stops in order to beat them. We were able to do that and play in transition."

In his first game against the team that drafted him in 2020, Pacers forward Aaron Nesmith tallied 15 points, six rebounds, three assists, and two steals.

Chris Duarte added 14 points off the bench for Indiana on 4-of-5 3-point shooting, while Myles Turner added 10 points, six boards, and three assists.

Jaylen Brown recorded a double-double for Boston in the loss with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Malcolm Brogdon finished with 18 points, four rebounds, seven assists, and two steals.

  • With a win on Thursday, the Pacers would win the season series against the Celtics for the first time since the 2015-16 season.
  • The Pacers and Celtics will play once more in the regular season in Boston on March 24.
  • Pacers center Myles Turner needs 10 blocks to tie Rik Smits (1,111) for second place on the franchise's all-time blocks list.
Broadcast Information (TV and Radio Listings >>)

TV: Bally Sports Indiana - Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Jeremiah Johnson (sideline reporter/host)

Radio: 93.5/107.5 The Fan - Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Eddie Gill (analyst), Pat Boylan (sideline reporter/host)


The Pacers return to action after the All-Star break on Thursday, Feb. 23, when they host Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics at 7:00 PM ET. Find Tickets >>