The Boston Celtics will head on the road to Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana on Tuesday night for an Eastern Conference clash versus the Indiana Pacers.
Indiana has all but erased any lingering concerns from their winless showing during the preseason. The Pacers have opened the 2020-21 campaign with three consecutive victories, including a win at home against the Celtics this past weekend. Meanwhile, Boston has dropped back-to-back wins since their dramatic opening night victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.
Can the Celtics bounce back on the road in their second game in a row against the Pacers on Tuesday evening?
Celtics suffer tough one-point loss vs. Pacers
The Celtics took the Pacers down to the wire on Sunday night but couldn’t hold on in a 108-107 loss. Jayson Tatum scored a team-high 25 points and hauled in 11 rebounds while Jalen Brown chipped in 18 points in a losing effort for the Celtics, who shot 9-for-23 from 3-point range on the night. Boston got some surprise contributions off of the bench from the likes of Robert Williams and rookie point guard Payton Pritchard. Williams finished with 12 points, four rebounds, and four steals, while Pritchard shot 5-for-5 from the field and 3-for-3 from 3-point range en route to a career-high 13 points.Williams and Pritchard have both made the case for more playing time. Williams has been a force defensively and earned crunch time minutes in Sunday’s loss versus Indiana as a result. He came up with a big steal and has a tremendous motor, which should help him continue to earn minutes moving forward.
Getting stops on the defensive end has been an issue for the Celtics en route to their 1-2 start. Boston ranks 26th in the NBA with a 116.9 defensive rating. The Celtics have also scored just 108.0 points per 100 possessions on offense (15th in the NBA), giving them one of the worst net ratings (-8.9) in the league (24th).
Sabonis earns Eastern Conference Player of the Week after 3-0 start
Indiana improved to a perfect 3-0 with a 108-107 win over the Celtics on Sunday. Malcolm Brogdon scored a team-high 25 points while Domantas Sabonis had 19 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists, including the game-winning basket with 8.4 seconds remaining to help Indiana escape with the win.The performance earned Sabonis the season’s first Eastern Conference Player of the Week award. The Pacers’ big man has thrived under first-year head coach Nate Bjorkgren, averaging 24.3 points, 11 rebounds, and seven assists per game while leading the Pacers to a 3-0 start. However, it is worth noting that that 24-year-old has struggled from the free-throw line so far this season. A career 71.8 percent free-throw shooter, Sabonis has connected on just 57.7 percent of his attempts at the charity stripe so far this season.
One of the biggest surprises for Indiana this season has been the play of sharpshooter Doug McDermott. While the 28-year-old has connected on just 29.4 percent of his 3-point attempts, McDermott has found other ways to contribute on offense. He comes in scoring 13.7 points per game on 50 percent shooting from the field and has scored in double-digits in each game this year.
Through three games, the Pacers rank in the top-10 in the NBA on both ends of the floor. They come in scoring 112.0 points per 100 possessions through their first three games (9th in the NBA) while posting a 101.6 rating on the defensive end of the floor, which ranks as the sixth-best mark in the league.