Celtics

NBA Preview: Pacers vs. Celtics

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Indiana Pacers (12-13) at Boston Celtics (21-4)
Sunday, December 19
1:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game # 26, Home Game #13
TV:  CSNNE, NBA-LP 751
Radio:  WEEI,  WFNI
TD Garden
Referees:  Monty McCutchen, David Guthrie,  Olandis Poole  
 
The Celtics are looking to extend their win streak to 13 as they host the Indiana Pacers today in an early game. The Celtics have played well in afternoon games so far this season, but the visions of lethargic efforts can't help but linger from last season's team. The Celtics have been plagued with injuries throughout the streak and we can add another one to the list for today's game.  
Semih Erden has been playing very well in the absence of Shaq, JO, and Perk in spite of playing with an injured shoulder himself. But, Semih missed practice with a groin pull and is questionable for today's game. Shaq and Jermaine both practiced on Saturday but JO will not play and Shaq is a game time decision. Rondo is still likely out as well. So, Nate will once again have to step up his game in another start in his place.  
After losing 3 straight, the Pacers came up with a win over Cleveland on Friday night. The Pacers have been off since Friday and the Celtics have been off since Thursday, so both teams will be rested. The Pacers are at full strength while the Celtics are depleted by injuries. The Celtics are 11-1 at home and hopefully will continue their home dominance in this game as well. The Pacers are 5-7 on the road.  

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard
 vs  
Nate Robinson  vs  Darren Collison  

Shooting Guard
 vs
Ray Allen   vs  Brandon Rush  

Small Forward
 vs  
Paul Pierce  vs  Danny Granger  

Power Forward
 vs  
Kevin Garnett  vs  Josh McRoberts

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Center
 vs  
Semih Erden  vs  Roy Hibbert  


Boston Bench Mob  
Marquis Daniels
Glen Davis
Luke Harangody
Nate Robinson
Von Wafer
Avery Bradley

Injured

Kendrick Perkins (knee) out
Jermaine O'Neal (knee) day to day
Delonte West (wrist) out
Shaquille O'Neal (knee,calf) game time decision
Rajon Rondo (ankle, hamstring, feet)  out
Semih Erden (groin) questionable

Pacers Bench
Mike Dunleavy
Solomon Jones
James Posey
Dahntay Jones
TJ Ford
Jeff Foster
Tyler Hansbrough
Paul George
AJ Price
Lance Stephenson

Injuries
None 

Key Matchups
vs
Paul Pierce vs Danny Granger
Danny Granger is a tough player who can hit from outside as well as take the ball to the basket. He always seems to play extra hard vs the Celtics since the time he lost a couple of teeth on the parquet. Pierce has been giving the team what they need on any given night and on this night they might need his defense most of all.

vs
Kevin Garnett vs Josh McRoberts
This matchup could give the Celtics an advantage. KG has been playing very well and McRoberts would need to bring his A+ game to be able to match up.  

Honorable Mention
Point Guards
Nate has been playing very well when filling in for Rondo and he is going to need to continue his strong play as well as giving the Celtics big minutes. The Pacers bring TJ Ford off the bench and Avery Bradley may matchup well against him.  

Keys to the Game
Defense - The Celtics have been winning with their defense and they must continue to make defense their priority. They must especially defend the 3 point line. The Pacers are second only to the Knicks in 3 point shooting and the Celtics allowed the Knicks to score at will from beyond the arc. They must do a better job against the Pacers.  

Rebound -  When the Celtics put out the effort needed to crash the boards, that effort transfers to the other areas of their game as well. Winning the rebounding battle also prevents second chance points for the Pacers as well as limits fast break opportunities.

Ubuntu - With all the injuries, the Celtics must band together and fill in for the players who are out. They need to help with ball handling and assists with Rondo out as well as on the boards with the Shaq, JO and Perk not playing.  

X-Factor
Afternoon Game
Sometimes the Celtics come into an afternoon game ready to play and focused and other times they look like they are sleepwalking through the game. Hopefully the team remains focused on the prize and comes in ready for this one.