After dropping a game to the hottest team in the East on Sunday in the New York Knicks, the Pacers take on one of the top teams in the East at the Garden. The Celtics recently dropped from the top spot in the East, but should be rested and healthy for the Pacers after two full days off at home.
After blazing out to a 21-5 start, the C’s have lost four of their last five games which is explicable considering the bad stretch started at toward the end of a long Western Conference road swing. The perplexing part of the recent downturn were the two L’s Orlando put on Boston in consecutive games. Jayson Tatum did sit out the second game, but the strong MVP candidate expects to be back for the Pacers.
The Pacers are weathering their own four-losses-in-five-games stretch which has seen the blue and gold play quality ball for long stretches of games but come up short when it matters most at crunch time. This matchup will be an entirely different beast with the way the Celtics have played throughout the season. Considering the dynamic lineup the C’s start game with, one would assume that Aaron Nesmith will start instead of Jalen Smith to take on another challenging defensive assignment against Tatum.
Nesmith will face the C’s for the first time after being a supposed throw-in as part of Boston’s trade for Malcolm Brogdon. He’s proven to be more valuable than that so far. Brogdon is playing a key role for the Celtics off the bench, which seems to be a great role for the former Pacers point guard if his ego allows. It also minimizes his minutes which should help keep him available throughout the season. A healthy Brogdon will be even more valuable in that role at playoff time.
Regardless of the starting lineup, the Celtics are strong, double-digit favorites to beat the Pacers in this one.
DraftKings Odds: Celtics -10, O/U 233 (latest DraftKings odds here)
When: 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: TD Garden, Boston, MA
TV: Bally Sports Indiana/Bally Sports + app
Radio: 93.5 FM/107.5 FM
Projected Starting Lineups:
Pacers: Tyrese Haliburton, Andrew Nembhard, Buddy Hield, Aaron Nesmith, Myles Turner
Celtics: Marcus Smart, Derrick White, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford
IND: Kendall Brown - out (right tibia stress reaction), Daniel Theis - out (right knee surgery)
BOS: Grant Williams - probable (non-COVID illness), Marcus Smart - questionable (non-COVID illness), Danilo Gallinari - out (left knee ACL repair)
Please share your thoughts and observations on the game in the comments.