Myles Turner
(NBAE/Getty Images)

Game Preview: Pacers vs Celtics

Saturday, Jan. 6 at 7:00 PM ET at Gainbridge Fieldhouse

Pacers vs Celtics

Game Preview

The Pacers (20-14) will put the NBA's longest active win streak on the line on Saturday night, when they host the Boston Celtics (27-7) for the first of two straight games against the Eastern Conference leaders.

Indiana is 1-1 on the season against Boston. The Celtics drew first blood with 155-104 blowout win in Boston on Nov. 1. But the Pacers got revenge in the Quarterfinals of the inaugural In-Season Tournament, knocking off Boston 122-112 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on Dec. 4 to earn a trip to Las Vegas.

The Pacers are now arguably playing better than they were in the In-Season Tournament, having reeled off six straight wins, including a 150-116 blowout victory over Atlanta on Friday night in Indy. The Blue & Gold set a franchise record with 50 assists in the win, with All-Star point guard Tyrese Haliburton leading the way with 18 assists in just 25 minutes.

Haliburton played the most minutes of any Pacer on Friday, as head coach Rick Carlisle was able to sit all his starters for the entire fourth quarter with the game well in hand.

The Celtics will be similarly rested, however, as they rolled to a 126-97 win over Utah on Friday night in Boston, with no player logging more than 27 minutes. All-Star forward Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 30 points, nine rebounds, and five assists, going 6-for-12 from the field and 13-for-14 from the free throw line.

Boston boasts the NBA's best record and arguably the league's best starting lineup, which features three All-Stars from last season in Tatum, forward Jaylen Brown, and point guard Jrue Holiday, another former All-Star at center in Kristaps Porzingis, and veteran guard Derrick White, who is making a star turn in his eighth NBA season. As of Friday morning, White was averaging 17 points and 5.3 assists while shooting 49.2 percent from the field, 42.2 percent from 3-point range, and 89.2 percent from the free throw line.

After Saturday, the Pacers and Celtics will have a rematch on Monday night at the Fieldhouse. Indiana will then wrap up a five-game homestand on Wednesday against Washington before embarking on a season-long six-game road trip.

Projected Starters

Pacers: G - Tyrese Haliburton, G - Andrew Nembhard, F - Aaron Nesmith, F - Jalen Smith, C - Myles Turner

Celtics: G - Jrue Holiday, G - Derrick White, F - Jaylen Brown, F - Jayson Tatum, C - Kristaps Porzingis

Injury Report

Pacers: Isaiah Jackson - questionable (right fifth finger hairline fracture), Andrew Nembhard - questionable (mid-back sprain), Aaron Nesmith - questionable (left ankle sprain), Bruce Brown - out (right knee bone bruise)

Celtics: Jordan Walsh - out (G League assignment)

Last Meeting

Dec. 4, 2023: Tyrese Haliburton recorded his first career triple-double, scored 19 points in the second half, and hit a shot that will go down in Pacers lore to give Indiana the lead for good, as the Blue & Gold stunned the heavily favored Boston Celtics to advance to the In-Season Tournament Semifinals in Las Vegas with a 122-112 win at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

With the game tied at 105 and less than two minutes remaining, Haliburton drew Celtics center Al Horford onto him on the right wing. After getting a pick from Hield, Jaylen Brown switched on to the Pacers All-Star. Sensing the shot clock running down, Haliburton hoisted a one-hand shot high into the air, drawing contract from Brown.

The ball sailed high into the air before falling through the net, sending the capacity crowd at The Fieldhouse into an eruption. "M-V-P" chants broke out as Haliburton sealed the four-point play at the free throw line.

"I just saw some daylight, saw some space," Haliburton said of the pivotal shot. "Put it up and it went in."

Haliburton finished with a team-high 26 points, going 10-for-18 from the field and 5-for-11 from 3-point range, 10 rebounds, and 13 assists. Buddy Hield added 21 points on 4-of-6 3-point shooting and five other Pacers finished in double figures.

Jayson Tatum led all scorers with 32 points, 12 rebounds, and six assists. Brown added 30 points and nine rebounds for Boston.

Noteworthy

  • Because they met in the In-Season Tournament, the Pacers and Celtics will play five times in the regular season, including three times this month. After their two-game set in Indianapolis, they will conclude the season series on Jan. 30 in Boston.
  • The Pacers' six-game win streak is their longest winning streak since they won six straight from Feb. 2-11, 2019. They also had a seven-game win streak that same season from Dec. 4-16, 2018.
  • Indiana is just 1-4 on the season when playing on the second night of a back-to-back.
  • With three 3-pointers on Friday, Pacers guard Buddy Hield became the 25th player in NBA history to reach 1,800 career 3-pointers. Hield now has 1,801 career threes. Next up on the career 3-point list are Wesley Matthews (who is still active) and Kobe Bryant at 1,827.
  • Pacers center Myles Turner needs six blocks to reach 1,200 for his career. In his ninth season in Indiana, Turner is chasing down Jermaine O'Neal's franchise record of 1,245 blocks.

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)

Tickets

The Pacers continue their five-game homestand by hosting Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on Saturday, Jan. 6 at 7:00 PM ET. Find Tickets >>