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Game Preview: Pacers at Celtics

Pacers.com Game Preview presented by DraftKings

Matchup

With five games left in the regular season, the Pacers (25-52) are shipping up to Boston to take on the Celtics (47-30) for the fourth and final time this season. Indiana has not won at TD Center since March 11, 2018.

While Indiana's record is less than stellar, Wednesday's game against the Nuggets proves this team plays with heart. The Pacers rallied from a 31-point deficit to earn a lead. Unfortunately, the Nuggets recovered and earned the win.

Nonetheless, that same heart and hustle will be needed against Boston. Since the All-Star Break, the Celtics have a 13-4 record and are fourth in the Eastern Conference standings. Indiana has a chance to spoil their fun for a bit.

To do so, the Blue & Gold must find ways to slow down the duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Together, the pair averages 50.4 points per game for Boston — 45.5 percent of the team's total scoring. Both Tatum and Brown are adept at scoring from all areas and are shooting around 35 percent from deep.

Additionally, the Pacers will have to find ways to generate offense against the Celtics. Boston ranks first in the NBA in defensive rating, limiting opponents to 106.6 points per 100 possession. The squad ranks second in opposing points in the paint (42.3 points per game). The Pacers' bigs have to play physically and finish their looks against Grant Williams, Al Horford, and Daniel Theis.

Indiana will likely need another solid outing from Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield. Haliburton appears to have found a nice balance of scoring and assisting. The 22-year-old post posted double-doubles in consecutive contests. Meanwhile, Hield has posted five straight double-figure games, including back-to-back 20-point outings. The sharpshooter has made 14 treys over his past three games. Against the Hawks on March 28, he recorded a 5-for-7 (71.4 percent) performance from deep.

Projected Starters

Tyrese Haliburton

Tyrese Haliburton

Buddy Hield

Buddy Hield

Justin Anderson

Justin Anderson

Terry Taylor

Terry Taylor

Goga Bitadze

Goga Bitadze

Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart

Jaylen Brown

Jaylen Brown

Jayson Tatum

Jayson Tatum

Grant Williams

Grant Williams

Al Horford

Al Horford

Pacers: PG - Tyrese Haliburton, SG - Buddy Hield, SF - Justin Anderson, PF - Terry Taylor, C - Goga Bitadze
Celtics: PG - Marcus Smart, SG - Jaylen Brown, SF - Jayson Tatum, PF - Grant Williams, C - Al Horford

Injury Report

Pacers: Goga Bitadze - questionable (sore right foot), Oshae Brissett - questionable (sore lower back), Malcolm Brogdon - questionable (sore lower back), Isaiah Jackson - questionable (headache), Chris Duarte - out (sore left toe), T.J. McConnell - out (right wrist ligament surgery), Ricky Rubio - out (torn left ACL), Myles Turner - out (left foot stress reaction), T.J. Warren – out (left navicular fracture)

Celtics: Malik Fitts - out (G League assignment), Sam Hauser - out (G League assignment), Robert Williams III - out (torn left meniscus)

Last Meeting

Feb. 27, 2022: The Celtics came into this contest having won 11 of their last 12 and 13 of their past 15 games. However, the Pacers halted that red-hot streak when they rolled into Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

Oshae Brissett recorded 27 points, including six 3-pointers. Buddy Hield added 21 — 13 in the fourth quarter — as Indiana steamrolled Boston, 128-107.

Additionally, Tyrese Haliburton and Malcolm Brogdon were spectacular too. Haliburton nearly missed out on a double-double, finishing with 22 points and nine assists, while Brogdon tacked on another 20 in three quarters. The veteran guard sat out the fourth quarter to rest his sore left Achilles.

Brogdon and Haliburton started an early barrage of threes that helped Indiana grab an early lead. The duo knocked in four — two each. The Blue & Gold remained in front for most of the frame until Payton Pritchard sank a pair of triples late.

After a back-and-forth start to the second, Brissett and Chris Duarte began the second brigade of Pacer treys. The duo helped Indiana snag a 56-46 edge with 3:13 left in the first half. Indiana led 66-55 at halftime.

A 12-4 Indiana run helped push the Pacers' advantage to as high as 19 in the third quarter. Boston managed to cut the deficit to seven to keep it close. However, Hield helped in the fourth quarter to put the Celtics away for good.

Noteworthy

  • Indiana has lost the last four road games against Boston.
  • Pacers guard Chris Duarte and Celtics guard Payton Pritchard both played basketball at the University of Oregon.
  • Pacers guard Duane Washington Jr. and Celtics center Daniel Theis were both born in Germany.

Tickets

The Pacers tip off their final homestand of the season on Sunday, April 3, when they welcome Cade Cunningham and the Detroit Pistons to Gainbridge Fieldhouse at 5:00 PM ET. Find Tickets »

Broadcast Information TV & Radio Listings »

TV: Bally Sports Indiana - Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Jeremiah Johnson (studio host)
Radio: 93.5/107.5 The Fan - Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Pat Boylan (studio host)