Tip: 7PM Court: Bankers Life Fieldhouse Watch it: CSNNE Hear it: WEEI
Referees: Rodney Mott, Brian Forte and Mark Lindsay
The Boston Celtics began their season turnaround with a 94-75 drubbing of the Indiana Pacers. Rajon Rondo (18 pts, 7 asts, 5 rebs) and Kevin Garnett (18 pts, 7 rebs) led the charge for the Celtics.
Get it to: Avery Bradley
We all remember Bradley as the defensive spark plug who could also score at will during the tail end of last season. In 15 games in April, the 22-year-old averaged 15.1 points per game on 52% shooting from the field and 54.5% from three-point range.
While he has struggled since returning from offseason surgery, Bradley is finally starting to return to his prior form.
Over his last three games, Bradley is averaging 16 points, 4 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. He’s also shot 21-of-33 (63.6%) from the field and 5-of-9 (55.5%) from distance.
Coming off his best performance of the season against the Philadelphia 76ers last night—22 pts (10-of-15), 7 rebs and 5 assists—Bradley seems to be finally turning the corner.
Gotta stop: David West
After a rather disappointing first season with the Pacers, West is finally starting to play at the level many expected. Through 59 games, he’s averaging 17.7 points and 7.6 rebounds over 33.4 minutes per game.
But lately, West has been on a complete tear.
Over his last four games, West has averaged 24 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game. He’s shot 57.6 percent from the field during that span.
West is coming off a 31-point performance against the Chicago Bulls on Sunday and will be hungry for more.
Brandon Bass will have to be on his A-game tonight.
The Wild Card: Battle in the paint
While Boston is seen as one of the worst rebounding teams in the league—No. 28 in the NBA—Indiana is the best by a solid margin.
That can only mean bad news for the Celtics down low.
Throughout the season, Boston has given away second chance after second chance to opponents. That’s something it can’t afford to do against a Pacers team that ranks No. 5 in the league in offensive rebounds with 12.8 per game.
On the positive side, Indiana only ranks No. 23 in points in the paint with just 38.9 per game. However, the Celtics rank No. 17 in opponent points in the paint, allowing 42.5 per game. They’ve allowed 48.7 points in the paint per game over their last three games.
With this likely being a very tightly contest game—both teams rank in the top 10 in scoring defense—Boston cannot afford to give up easy buckets down low.
How we see it goin’ down
I’ve tried and tried, but I just don’t see any way the Celtics can pull this one out.
It’s on the road—Boston is 4-7 in its last 11 away games—the Pacer’s are hot—winners of 7 of their last 8—and then there’s this interesting tidbit: The Celtics haven’t swept a back-to-back on the road since last April.
Silver lining? There isn’t one.
Then again, Boston was a heavy underdog in the previous meeting between these two and they won by nearly 20 points.
However, I just don’t see that happening again (let’s hope I’m wrong).