The Pacers are set to face the new-look Celtics which could be a playoff preview.
The Celtics arrive already on a three game winning streak after running past the Philadelphia 76ers last night. The win moved the C's to 12-4 since losing Rajon Rondo for the season. It appears Boston has simply adapted to life without Rondo by altering their identity by utilizing Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee to apply pressure on opponents and keep the C's in full-time attack mode.
As Conrad Brunner points out today, the C's would be the Pacers first round playoff opponent if the standings don't change, which would be a tough task for the Pacers to overcome. Although, in the crowded East, the Celtics could end up in a variety of spots and if they continue their current level of play, will likely rise up the standings by the end of the regular season.
The matchup tonight should bring out some playoff intensity in both teams, though. As the season wears on, playoff teams visiting the Fieldhouse create a playoff atmosphere and as Paul George told Bruno, it gets the juices flowing for the home team, as well.
Tonight's game just has to be what it is - a potential playoff preview - to take on added significance for the Pacers.
"I think it's getting to the stage where how it's getting fun with opponents that we match up with," George said. "We can come into the game thinking it's going to be a playoff (preview) and it's very realistic that could be our first-round battle."
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