Pascal Siakam, Andrew Nembhard
(NBAE/Getty Images)

Game Preview: Pacers vs Celtics (Game 3)

Saturday, May 25 at 8:30 PM ET at Gainbridge Fieldhouse

Pacers vs Celtics (Game 3)

Game Preview

The Pacers find themselves in a familiar position heading into Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday night at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Indiana dropped two games in Boston to open the best-of-seven series and returns home trailing 0-2, just like they did in the Eastern Conference Semifinals against New York.

The Blue & Gold were able to overcome that deficit in the last round, winning Games 3 and 4 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse and eventually taking the series in seven games.

It won't be an easy task to repeat this round, but if the Pacers are going to climb back into this series, it will start on Saturday.

No team has been tougher to beat at home over the last two months than the Pacers. Indiana is a perfect 6-0 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in the playoffs — the only remaining team in the postseason that has yet to drop a home game. Dating back to the regular season, the Pacers have won 11 straight home games and having lost in Indiana since March 18.

The Celtics, meanwhile, are a perfect 4-0 on the road in the playoffs, sweeping two road games in Miami in the first round and Cleveland in the second round. Something has to give on Saturday.

The biggest question heading into Saturday is the health of Pacers All-Star guard Tyrese Haliburton. Haliburton exited with 3:44 remaining in the third quarter of Game 2 on Thursday and did not return after being diagnosed with a sore left hamstring. Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle said that Haliburton would be evaluated Friday.

"We hope that this is a very short-term aggravation," Carlisle said "But again, we’ll know more tomorrow and then Saturday obviously, the next game is coming quickly."

Not having Haliburton for Game 3 would be a significant blow for Indiana. The 24-year-old is averaging 18.7 points and 8.2 assists per game in the playoffs and is the driving force behind one of the league's most dynamic offenses.

Without Haliburton (or with a limited version of him), the Pacers would rely more heavily on Pascal Siakam has their lead option. The two-time All-Star is coming off a tremendous performance in Game 2, where he scored 28 points on 13-of-17 shooting, at one point scoring 20 of 24 points for Indiana across the end of the first and start of the second halves.

Although Haliburton is Indiana's star, the Pacers do have two other capable point guards who have had strong postseasons. Second-year guard Andrew Nembhard has been starting at shooting guard, but can slide over to the point. He is averaging 13.1 points and 5 assists in the playoffs while shooting 55.9 percent from the field and 46.8 percent from 3-point range. Veteran backup T.J. McConnell has been a spark plug off the bench, averaging 10.8 points and 5.1 assists while shooting 48 percent from the field.

Projected Starters

Pacers: G - Tyrese Haliburton, G - Andrew Nembhard, F - Aaron Nesmith, F - Pascal Siakam, C - Myles Turner

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

Injury Report

Pacers: Tyrese Haliburton - questionable (sore left hamstring), Bennedict Mathurin - out (right shoulder labral tear)

Celtics: Jrue Holiday - questionable (non-COVID illness), Luke Kornet - doubtful (left wrist sprain), Kristaps Porzingis - out (right soleus strain)

Last Meeting

May 23, 2024: Jaylen Brown matched his playoff career high with 40 points as the Celtics used a few key runs to come away with a 126-110 win in Game 2 at TD Garden.

The Celtics surged ahead at the start of the second quarter, when they reeled off 17 straight points, and then pushed the margin to double digits for good with a 16-5 spurt in the third quarter after Indiana had drawn within two.

Pascal Siakam led Indiana with a team-high 28 points while going 13-for-17 from the field (2-for-2 from 3-point range). Andrew Nembhard finished with 16 points and five assists in the loss for Indiana, while Obi Toppin scored 11 points off the bench.

Derrick White added 23 points, four rebounds, and six assists for Boston, while All-NBA forward Jayson Tatum tallied 23 points, six rebounds, and five assists.


  • The Pacers are 1-8 all-time when falling behind 0-2 in a best-of-seven series, but that won series win came in the last round against the Knicks.
  • Saturday's game will be a "gold out," with all fans in attendance receiving a gold t-shirt featuring the Pacers logo on a checkered flag background.
  • This is the seventh playoff series between the Pacers and the Celtics. All of their previous meetings occurred in the first round. Indiana won in 2004 and 2005, while Boston took the other four series in 1991, 1992, 2003, and 2019.
  • This is Indiana's ninth appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals, with all those appearance coming in the last 30 years. Only four teams have more conference finals appearances over that span: the Spurs with 11 and the Lakers, Heat, and Celtics with 10 each.

Broadcast Information (TV and Radio Listings >>)

TV: ABC - Mike Breen (play-by-play), Doris Burke (analyst), JJ Redick (analyst), Lisa Salters (sideline reporter)

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


The Eastern Conference Finals will shift to Indianapolis when the Pacers host the Celtics for Game 3 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on Saturday, May 25 at 8:30 PM ET. Find Tickets >>