Sunday, December 19, 2010
Game 26: Celtics vs. Pacers
By Chris Forsberg
at TD Garden, 1 p.m. | CSN, WEEI (850 AM)
||(21-4, 11-1 home)
||-- vs. --
|| (12-13, 5-7 away)
GAME PREVIEW (via Stats Inc.)
The Boston Celtics are already missing NBA assist leader Rajon Rondo and might be ready to add a fourth center to their list of walking wounded.
Those who remain in the lineup are making the slew of injuries easy to forget.
Boston's Big Three and one of the league's stingiest defenses have kept the Celtics thriving during 12 straight wins, a run they'll look to extend to an NBA season-high 13 on Sunday afternoon against the visiting Indiana Pacers.
Boston (21-4) hasn't had Rondo for four games during its streak and has been without Shaquille O'Neal for the past four contests, while Jermaine O'Neal has been out since early November and Kendrick Perkins likely won't make his season debut until after the All-Star break.
The Celtics certainly haven't let those absences slow them down. Boston has won by an average of 13.4 points while allowing 88.9 points per game during its streak, which it pushed to 12 with a 102-90 win over Atlanta on Thursday.
"What are you going to do? Quit? Put your clothes on and go home?" Kevin Garnett said after finishing with 17 points and 14 rebounds -- his third straight double-double. "That's not what we do here.
"We are just out here grinding. There's nothing else to say. Every player is giving everything they have. In order for us to win these games, we just have to give everything we have until we get guys back."
Read the full preview HERE.
FORSBERG'S THREE THINGS TO WATCH
- Defend the 3-point line: The Celtics weren't happy with the way the Knicks blitzed them from downtown in Wednesday's nail-biter in NYC. The Pacers are second in the NBA behind only the Knicks, averaging 24.2 3-point attempts per game (and connecting on a healthy 35.9 percent of those, or 8.7 made per game).
- Paint in focus: While the Pacers like to shoot from the perimeter, they don't generate a lot of shots near the basket and, in turn, don't get to the charity stripe very often. Indiana averages only 18.7 shots per game at the rim -- more than three shots less than the NBA average -- and is second to last in the NBA, averaging only 21.7 free throw attempts per game. That means the Celtics shouldn't fret too much if Shaquille O'Neal (calf) or Semih Erden (groin) can't suit up. On the flip side, the Pacers excel at defending the rim, with opponents shooting only 59.3 percent around the basket (fifth best in Boston, one spot behind Boston).
- Eyes on Granger: In Indiana's lone win over Boston last season, Danny Granger poured in 29 points on 8-of-16 shooting, including six trifectas. Celtics coach Doc Rivers described how Granger floats below the radar, but can't be forgotten by Boston. "I guarantee if you ask somebody to name the players on [this year's Team USA], they'd probably forget Granger. If you ask them who one of the best small forward in the East, they’d forget Granger. I don’t think he cares, really, he’s a very good young basketball player."