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Game 29/82: Celtics (23-5) @ Pacers (13-15) Open Thread

 

Boston at Indiana

7:00 P.M. ET

Conseco Fieldhouse

CSNNE

Offensive Efficiency:

Boston: 106.4 points/100 possessions (10th)

Indiana: 100 points/100 possessions (24th)

Defensive Efficiency:

Boston: 96.7 points allowed/100 possessions (1st)

Indiana: 100.7 points allowed/100 possessions (7th)

View From The Opposing Bench: Eight Points, Nine Seconds

Probable Indiana Starters: Darren Collison (PG), Brandon Rush (SG), Danny Granger (SF), Robert McJosherson (PF), Roy Hibbert (C)

The C’s meet the Pacers for the second time in two weeks, but this time the game will be taking place in something called a fieldhouse. I guess all the basketball arenas in Indiana were taken this evening, but I’m sure the fieldhouse will work fine if the VFW rummage sale in the afternoon cleans up after itself.

These Pacers are extremely mediocre. Actually, they’re more mediocre than that. Their point differential on the season is exactly zero. That is perfection of mediocrity, and they should be recognized for it in some way, potentially in a modest ceremony.

But that doesn’t mean the Celtics are safe tonight, knowing what we know now. Our last glimpse of the Celtics showed a highly vulnerable offense, and the Pacers are a just-below-elite defensive team. It would be good, great, grand, wonderful to see the C’s offense click again tonight against high-level D, just to prove to themselves and to the league that the last two games were a blip, and to stave off a more prolonged malaise. Can’t speak for all C’s fans, but it’s my feeling that this is a big one.

For all of the below, I’ll try to avoid repeating what Ryan said last week, but go ahead and browse his earlier preview. Just make sure you “pace” yourself! I’d explain that joke but it’s pretty complicated.

WHAT THE PACERS DO WELL

Get that stuff out of their house. Highest block rate in the league, thanks to Hibbert, Foster, and above-average production from the smaller employees. A potential area of concern given A) that we’d like to see the Celtics getting more attempts at the rim and B) Hibbert can comfortably rest his chin on Glen Davis’s head.

Retrieve lost animals.

Two years later and I still can’t believe this was on TV.

WHAT THE PACERS DO POORLY

Not commit fouls. Glen might have an escape route from the rim to the foul line, because the Pacers have the seventh-highest opponent free throw rate in the league. This is also largely Hibbert’s doing, and it’s one of the last pieces of his game he needs to figure out to be really, really good. The dude started playing basketball like eight years ago! Scary how good he could eventually be, but it would be sad if to fully pursue basketball he had to sacrifice his love of Pokemon.

Draw fouls. The Pacers are second-lowest in their own FTR, too. Add that up and you get the second-worst FTR differential in the league to the Warriors. There’s a little shame in that differential, to me. If you commit so many fouls on one end, shouldn’t you have some understanding of how to induce a foul on the other?

PLAYERS WHO MAKE ME WORRY

I could list a few players here, but they’d all be Celtics. Like many fans, I’m concerned about how this team will resume putting an offense together after failing to do so in the last two games. Sometimes really concerned. But lately I’ve been able to avoid total nervous system failure with the conclusion that both of these last two games have a simple, harmless explanation: good players missing pretty good shots. What can ya do?

Ray Allen and Shaquille O’Neal played the biggest role in winning the Philadelphia game, while Paul Pierce and Glen Davis had off nights. Two nights later, Paul Pierce, Glen Davis, and Kevin Garnett were the only reliable players on the court, while Ray Allen, Shaquille O’Neal, and Nate Robinson had off nights. Nate isn’t a 2-15 shooter, nor is Shaq going to go 1-3 and foul out in 13 minutes in most games, nor is Glen Davis regularly going to shoot 2-9 with 1-6 from the long two like he did against Philly. When off nights pile up like that, you sustain the occasional loss.

Did the offense look good in either of these games? Absolutely not. They’ve drifted away from the rim, and I can’t fully explain why. The Celtics took 21 shots from 16-23 feet, more than anywhere else on the floor, and only made six of them for a 28.6 shooting percentage. Which game does that refer to? BOTH. That happened in both games.

You could blame that stat on Dwight Howard’s presence under the rim, but it’s hard to do the same for Spencer Hawes. Okay, look: the C’s frontcourt is very sadly depleted and the guy holding it down is a 38-year-old who is somehow going gray even though he has no visible hair on his body. Compassion and sympathy would not be inappropriate here. But it’s time for Jermaine O’Neal to step up, and it’s time for the rest of the C’s to get back to their successful high-efficiency formula.

PLAYERS WHO DO NOT MAKE ME WORRY

Foster, Collison, Rush, Posey, Ford, Dunleavy, Jones, Hansbrough, Jones, Price. Hibbert and Granger don’t belong down here, but they also don’t belong up there.

WHAT WE WANT TO SEE TONIGHT

A return to the disciplined, almost mechanical pursuit of high-percentage shot opportunities from the Celtics offense. Movement off the ball. Shots at the rim. Somebody other than Nate Robinson leading the team in attempts. A return to averageness for Jermaine O’Neal. Substantial effort resulting in a win.

PREDICTION

I’m very nervous about predicting this game, but here goes:

C’s 91, Pacers 87

  • CsFanInArkansas

    "Robert McJosherson" = very nice.

    fyi – you have "Orlando" listed in the Offensive Efficiency category up there.

    I think this team regroups after that last loss and gives us another several Ws – I think we'll see a big difference in the focus of this team than the team we saw last year that skunked it up after Christmas.

    Cs by 9 tonight – 103 to 94.

    • hdavenport

      Thanks for the FYI. This entire post was copy-and-pasted from the Orlando preview.

  • DRJ1

    This could be a watershed/crossroads game. They either get back to their winning ways, or start their tank as they have in prior years. I think we'll see the former. (But who knows?)

  • Ryan DeGama

    I would argue that the perfect title for JO's autobiography is "Jermaine O'Neal: A Return To Averageness".

    Hayes, make sure you get points on the back end.

  • http://www.anaheimamigos.com Anaheim Amigos

    Old 'friend' of Celticshub Tony Allen must have had a good game last night. His mug is all over this page: http://www.nba.com/statistics/plusminus/plusminus

    • hdavenport

      J.J. Redick plays spoiler again! Man I hate that guy so much.

  • someguyinsac

    Looks like Larry is waiting for a flood of some kind with those pants of his. :)

    • http://www.anaheimamigos.com Anaheim Amigos

      Agreed. A quick glance at Jim O'B and it's hard to believe that Jim's not the worst dressed old white dork in that pic.

  • CsFanInArkansas

    @ Ahaheim Amigos – yeah – against the Raptors…

    speaking of tony allen – i find it a bit humorous that he bolts to memphis to make a few more $$ and "get out of the shadow" of the stars on the Cs roster……and is currently averaging the FEWEST minutes per game and points per game of his less than impressive nba career…..to go along with his second worst FG and FT percentages ever…..and it's not like the competition over there in memphis is all that fierce (sam young, xavier henry….)

    i was initially worried about our D when we found out he'd be leaving, but looking back, i think allen jumping ship to join the grizz was definitely a blessing…

    • ElRoz

      Yes, TA is averaging less of pretty much everything….he left Boston with one final "bone-head" move.
      Could have been on a great team playing 19-22 minutes a game in a system he knows.

    • TedL

      Sad but true. I was sad to see Tony go, but I can't say we miss him. Hopefully when Delonte's healthy we'll really be ahead of the game.

    • http://www.anaheimamigos.com Anaheim Amigos

      Yes, but the Raps beat Dallas tonight. I know that Dirk didn't play, but the Raptors were even more shorthanded — by the end of this game, they were missing Bargnani, Peja, Calderon, Kleiza, Evans, Bayless, and Weems. TOR got so desperate, they almost had to play Solomon Alabi, who in last week's practice session, successfully learned how to dribble with one hand instead of two.

      You are absolutely right, though. The Celtics are better off without TA and with guys like West and Daniels. I was just pointing out that he did have a really nice game.

  • ElRoz

    Love that photo – Larry Bird!
    More of that please

  • http://celticshub.com Hayes Davenport

    This is unpleasantly familiar.

    • Batman

      Comeback by Pierce!

  • kricky

    good win. Ugly, but they lose this one last year. PP for MVP!

  • DRJ1

    2.5 quarters of crap, then a miracle, wrought by Marquis. I think the Nate-as-PG experiment should die a peaceful death. Please. It's not in his DNA.

  • LStrike

    Unfortunately he is almost forced to play that role with Rondo and Delonte out.

  • http://www.anaheimamigos.com Anaheim Amigos

    It's pretty scary. With Rondo and West out, there are zero natural PG's on the roster. Give me Pierce, Daniels, and Nate (in that order) running the offense in key situations. But please, please, no more Ray Allen at the point!

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