OK, let’s try this again. If I don’t hit on this one I may be forced to stick to game recaps. But here it goes…at 7:30 tonight, our Celtics (33-41) host the Indiana Pacers (32-42). The C’s have taken two of three from Indiana thus far this season. This is a crucial game for both squads as Boston sits in 9th (trailing Brooklyn by a half game for the 8th seed) and is holding off Indiana, who sits in 10th, by a full game. For a lot of the same rationale as to why I picked the Celtics to beat Miami last week (damn you Goran Dragic), I also like them tonight against Indy. Yes, Indy is the far more experienced, even playoff atmosphere tested, team with proven vets like David West (11.9 points per game, 6.9 rebounds per), Roy Hibbert (10.8 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 1.7 blocks), and a much improved George Hill (16.2 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 4.6 assists). However, they just have not gelled the same way this year, struggling without injured franchise player Paul George and free agent departure Lance Stephenson, who arguably was their best player in the playoffs last season (antics aside). This having been said, the Pacers are coming off a tough loss last night (111-106) to a hot Brooklyn team, are 2-8 in their last 10 games, and may be without starting wing CJ Miles (rolled his ankle last night), who is a solid defender and has had a lot of the success stretching the floor against the Celtics this year (3-5 from three in the last meeting, a 93-89 Celtics win).
I will concede that I would take the Pacers big men over the Celtics’ 10 times out of 10. With the aforementioned Hibbert (7’2 275 lbs) and West (6’9 250), along with the crafty Luis Scola (6’9 240) and physical Ian Mahinmi (6’11 255) the Pacers frontcourt is bigger, stronger, and more polished than the Celtics’. Zeller, Bass, Olynyk, and co. will have their hands full tonight, and if Indiana is able to slow down the game and control the post and glass, that could spell trouble for our C’s. Conversely, in the backcourt is where I believe we have the advantage. In the last meeting, George Hill put up an impressive line of 30 points, 5 rebounds, and 8 assists, albeit in a loss, but I expect the story to be much different tonight. Hill will get a heavy dosage of defensive pit bulls Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley and Brad Stevens will have a wrinkle or two prepared to make life hard on him. Also, another key difference is the absence of Isaiah Thomas in the last get-together. Although Thomas has struggled of late, I expect him to try to find his stroke and push the pace early and often. I could see versatile guard/forward (former Pacer as well) Evan Turner having a good game tonight as well, especially due to the expected absence of CJ Miles, who would have like been assigned to cover him.
Intangibly speaking, another reason to get this one is for the complete non-story “deflate-gate” (still waiting for the Wells report…anyone home?) which, as we know, originated from the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship game. I guess the Colts regime and Chuck Pagano were too busy worried about ways to give Tom, Bill and the Patriots organization a black eye, they completely forgot about game planning to stop human freight train Lagarrette Blount and the Brady led surgical offensive attack. Isn’t Pagano supposed to be some sort of defensive genius? Or at least defensive minded? Funny, I’m no genius but I could have told you no long-term deal for Chuck would be considered until after the upcoming season. But that’s a story for another blog…
The Patriots don’t lose to the Colts and the C’s better not lose to the Pacers tonight either.