Boston at Indiana
7:00 P.M. ET
Boston: 106.4 points/100 possessions (10th)
Indiana: 100 points/100 possessions (24th)
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.
I’m very nervous about predicting this game, but here goes:
C’s 91, Pacers 87