Buddy Hield, Bruce Brown, Tyrese Haliburton
(Matt Kryger)

Game Preview: Pacers vs Celtics (In-Season Tournament Quarterfinal)

Monday, Dec. 4 at 7:30 PM ET at Gainbridge Fieldhouse

Pacers vs Celtics (In-Season Tournament Quarterfinal)

Game Preview

The Pacers were the first team in NBA history to win an In-Season Tournament game. They were the first team ever to advance to the Knockout Rounds. Now, they're hoping to be the first team to win a Knockout Round game and advance to Las Vegas for the IST Semifinals.

Indiana (10-8) gets to host a Quarterfinal game at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on Monday thanks to a 4-0 record in Group Play. But the Blue & Gold don't have an easy draw, as they have to beat the Boston Celtics — owners of the NBA's best record at 15-4 — to move on to Vegas.

The Celtics beat the Pacers handily in the two teams' only previous meeting this season, rolling to a 155-104 victory on Nov. 1 in Boston in a game that Pacers All-Star guard Tyrese Haliburton missed due to injury.

That was the only game Haliburton had missed until Saturday, when he sat out Indiana's second game in Miami due to an upper respiratory infection. The Pacers fared much better without Haliburton this time around, getting an all-around team effort in a 144-129 win over the Heat.

The Pacers dropped 79 points over the final two quarters in Miami to pull away from the Heat and split a two-game series in south Florida. Bruce Brown scored a season-high 30 points on Saturday and three other Pacers topped the 20-point plateau. T.J. McConnell recorded his first double-double of the season with 20 points and 11 assists, while fellow point guard Andrew Nembhard also dished out 11 assists to help pick up the slack in Haliburton's absence.

The Blue & Gold are hoping to have Haliburton back for Monday's showdown with the Celtics. He is coming off an outstanding performance himself, scoring a career-high 44 points on Thursday in Miami in his last game on the court.

Haliburton has been brilliant to start the season, earning legitimate buzz in the early-season MVP discussion. The 23-year-old guard leads the NBA in assists (11.8 per game) and is 11th in the league in scoring (27 points per game) while shooting 51.9 percent from the field and 44.7 percent from 3-point range.

Haliburton is right behind Celtics forward Jayson Tatum on the list of the NBA's scoring leaders. Tatum, who has been a All-NBA First Team selection each of the past two seasons, is having another outstanding year, averaging 27.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game.

The stakes are high for Monday's game. The Pacers have embraced the In-Season Tournament as an opportunity to play games with real stakes early in a season when they hope to take the franchise back to the playoffs for the first time since 2019-20. Winning their group was already a significant achievement for a young team that features many players that have limited or no playoff experience, but they now have their sights set on advancing to Las Vegas. There is considerable buzz in Indianapolis around Monday's game, with fans expected to pack Gainbridge Fieldhouse and create an electric environment.

The winner of Monday's Quarterfinal will face the winner of Tuesday's other Eastern Conference Quarterfinal between Milwaukee and New York in Las Vegas on Thursday. The In-Season Tournament championship game is scheduled for Saturday. The loser of Monday's game will play a regular season game against the Bucks-Knicks loser on either Wednesday or Friday.

Projected Starters

Pacers: G - Tyrese Haliburton, G - Buddy Hield, F - Bruce Brown, F - Obi Toppin, C - Myles Turner

Celtics: G - Jrue Holiday, G - Derrick White, F - Jalen Brown, F - Jayson Tatum, C - Al Horford

Injury Report

Pacers: Tyrese Haliburton - questionable (upper respiratory infection), Obi Toppin - Jalen Smith - out (left knee bone bruise/left heel contusion)

Celtics: Kristaps Porzingis - out (left calf strain), Jordan Walsh - out (G League assignment)

Last Meeting

Nov. 1, 2023The Celtics dominated from start to finish in a 155-104 win over the Pacers in Boston. The hosts won the first quarter 44-27 and continued to increase their lead all the way up until the final buzzer. The 51-point margin of defeat was the Pacers' second-worst loss in franchise history, trailing only a 59-point loss at Golden State in 1977.

Boston outscored Indiana got 45 points from 3-point range alone. The Celtics went 20-for-37 (57.1 percent) from beyond the arc, while the Pacers were just 5-for-37 (13.5 percent).

The Pacers were without Tyrese Haliburton due to sprained right ankle. Only three players reached double figures for Indiana, with T.J. McConnell scoring a team-high 18 points off the bench to go along with seven rebounds and five assists. Andrew Nembhard added 14 points and Obi Toppin scored 11.

Jayson Tatum led eight Celtics in double figures, finishing with 30 points, 12 rebounds, and four assists. Derrick White added 18 points on 4-of-7 3-point shooting, while Sam Hauser scored 17 off the bench while going 5-for-6 from distance.

Noteworthy

  • The Pacers and Celtics have met six times in the playoffs, with Boston prevailing in four of those series, including their most recent postseason meeting in 2019. They have played two winner-take-all games, with Celtics winning Game 5 of a best-of-five first round series in 1991 and the Pacers won Game 7 of a best-of-seven first round series in 2005.
  • Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle registered his 251st win with the franchise on Saturday, moving him past Frank Vogel into second place in franchise history. Hall of Famer Slick Leonard holds the franchise record with 529 career wins across the ABA and NBA.
  • Pacers guard Buddy Hield needs three 3-pointers to move past Peja Stojakovic (1,760 career threes) for 26th place on the NBA's all-time 3-point list.
  • The Pacers acquired forward Aaron Nesmith in a trade with the Celtics in the summer of 2022. Boston originally drafted the 6-5 forward out of Vanderbilt with the 14th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.
  • Celtics forward Oshae Brissett signed with Boston this summer after playing for the Pacers from 2021-23.

Broadcast Information (TV and Radio Listings >>)

TV: TNT - Spero Dedes (play-by-play), Greg Anthony (analyst), Stephanie Ready (sideline reporter)

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

truTV/Max (NBA on TNT BetCast) - Jordan Cornette (host), Tim Doyle (analyst), Chandler Parsons (analyst)

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

Tickets

The Pacers will host the Boston Celtics at Gainbridge Fieldhouse for the first-ever In-Season Tournament Quarterfinal game on Monday, Dec. 4 at 7:30 PM ET. Find Tickets >>