W2W4: Celtics vs. Pacers (Game 60 of 82)
March, 6, 2013
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com
Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty ImagesJeff Green and the Celtics visit Indianapolis on Wednesday night.The Boston Celtics (32-27, 11-18 away) visit the Indiana Pacers (38-22, 25-6 home) on Wednesday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse (7 p.m., CSN). Here's what to watch for:
* PLAYOFF PREVIEW?: If the postseason began today, the Celtics and Pacers would be the 2-7 matchup in the Eastern Conference. Boston, having moved 1½ games out of the fourth seed with Tuesday's win in Philadelphia, would prefer to shuffle up a bit before the playoffs arrive, but there's a good chance they might be back in these parts at some point in April or May.
* SYNERGY SNAPSHOT: The Pacers are the league's best defense by nearly every barometer, including Synergy Sports data that shows Indiana allows a mere 0.857 points per play (by comparison, the Celtics are fifth at 0.894 ppp). The Pacers have the best transition defense in the league (1.011 ppp) and the second best halfcourt defense (0.837 ppp). Much of that success can be traced to David West -- a big man the Celtics nearly hooked coming out of the lockout -- as he is allowing a measly 0.689 points per play (second best in the league and now one spot ahead of Boston's Avery Bradley; old friend Marquis Daniels actually tops the list of all player with at least 200 possessions). Offensively, the Pacers rank 21st in the league, averaging 0.892 points per play. Indy leans heavy on post offense (7th overall), but struggles with spot-up shooting (23rd overall). George Hill has been their most efficient scorer, averaging 1.007 points per play and ranking in the 84th percentile overall.
* TAKE CARE OF THE BALL: In a defensive battle, every possession is valuable. The Celtics have to hope they shook all the rust from playing just one game over the previous seven days in Philadelphia, where they turned the ball over a season-high 22 times. The Pacers actually shoot themselves in the foot pretty often, owning the second worst turnover percentage in the league (16.3), but Boston absolutely has to value the ball in order to put up points against this team.
* COMPETITIVE ON THE GLASS: It goes without saying when playing against a frontline like Indy boasts, but Boston has to rebound. The Pacers own the best overall rebounding percentage in the NBA (52.7) and are third best on the offensive glass (30.1 percent). Can Boston afford to run with smaller three-guard lineups (like it did often versus Philly), or is this a night it's forced to go big, potentially throwing the likes of D.J. White and Shavlik Randolph into a key regular-season clash? This is the sort of game where Rivers would probably prefer to tighten up the rotation, but playing the second night of a back-to-back and needing help on the glass might force his hand at times (even just in small chunks) during this game.