Boston Celtics at Indiana Pacers
Team Totals: Celtics 122.5, 117.5
Injury Report: Kristaps Porzingis (O, calf), Tyrese Haliburton (Q, illness), Obi Toppin (Q, ankle)
Celtics projected starters: Jrue Holiday, Derrick White, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford
Pacers projected starters: Tyrese Haliburton, Bruce Brown, Buddy Hield, Obi Toppin, Myles Turner
Mazzulla quotes: Said he didn’t like their spacing in the Philly game, said he liked how the team executed after the Tatum ejection, said he liked all the little things Payton Pritchard did on Friday, said they didn’t have great individual defense at times during Friday’s win.
Carlisle quotes: Said he loved how his team stepped up without Haliburton, said McConnell had a “major impact” with his pace and scoring, said Mathurin had one of his best games, said Toppin played great on Butler and played through an ankle injury, basically talked up the entire rotation, said putting size on Butler seemed like a good idea (Obi on him), said they’re going to need an exceptional game to beat Boston today.
Stats and Notes:
*The Pacers did not miss Haliburton in their big win on Saturday with 144 points in Miami. The Pacers are still cooking on offense at 124.1 points per 100 possessions to lead the league, but Boston’s offense has slipped a tad to ninth at 117.8. As great as the Pacers are on offense, they’re almost as bad on defense at 122.5 points per 100 to rank 29th in the league. They are one of the worst teams at allowing offensive rebounds, and they allow the most rim points in the league at a whopping 51.7 points per game. The Pacers have been the league’s biggest rim funnel, and they’re the best team in the league at limiting off-ball scoring at just 21.3 points on C&S shots (ranks first) and 20.3 points on spot-up plays (ranks second). The on-ball Boston guys should have a field day.
*Jayson Tatum is quite rested with just 27 minutes played since Tuesday night, so we could see Mazzulla push him over 40 minutes. He’ll have his legs for a pace-up game and Tatum has been a dynamic transition scorer at a 74.5 eFG% in transition to rank second in the league among the 41 players with 60 possessions (LeBron). Tatum has actually been mediocre in a lot of his halfcourt scoring, so this style of game bodes extremely well for him. Based on how the Pacers used Obi on Jimmy Butler, they’re likely to use Obi on Tatum with a mix of Aaron Nesmith. Expect a big night from my original guy Jayson Tatum.
*Jaylen Brown is putting up some numbers again with a 28.7 usage rate over his last 11 games, and he’s starting to hit his stride on offense. Like Tatum, Brown should benefit from the style of play with 29.1% of his possessions coming in transition and his league-leading 6.6 transition possessions per game. The Pacers will likely run a lot of Bruce Brown on him, so he should have no problem scoring in the halfcourt, as well. Tatum has a way higher upside, but don’t be surprised to see a monster game from JB.
*Jrue Holiday is likely going to see Tyrese Haliburton in a really soft matchup, but Holiday is having a very underwhelming season. He’s one of the league’s worst PNR handlers at just 0.56 PPP, and he’s only been an effective off-ball scorer. If he somehow pops off, it’s likely from a pick-six fest to get him in the open floor. The role isn’t there, so it’s a thin path for a big night.
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