Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 8:00 PM ET at TD Garden

Game Preview: Pacers at Celtics

Scott Agness | Updated: March 1, 2014, 1:15 p.m.

Matchup

The Pacers are about to embark on a demanding March schedule. They’ll have teams gunning for their league-best record, 44-13, as they have 18 games, 11 coming on the road, over the next 31 days. That slate begins Saturday night in Boston against a Celtics team that is 4-6 over the last 10 games.

Indiana carries a three-game win streak into their third meeting of the season against the Celtics (20-39). They departed with a 15-point win last time they were in Bean Town, in mid-November. And Pacers guard Lance Stephenson’s eyes likely opened wide when he saw that they were next on the schedule. Two of his league-leading four triple-doubles have come against them.

The Celtics, currently on a five-game homestand, are admittedly in rebuild mode. They have multiple first-round picks in each of the next three years and will have cap space to grow and develop a team under Brad Stevens’ leadership.

The former Butler coach made the leap to the NBA in the offseason after he received an offer with one of the most storied franchises in professional sports. The biggest difference between the two levels he said is the lack of practice time and that there are dozens more possessions in each game.

Jeff Green, who leads the Celtics in scoring with 16.8 points per game, is their only player to start in all 59 games this season. They’ve been bothered by the injury bug, particularly with Rajon Rondo. Still rehabbing a torn ACL knee injury, the four-time NBA All-Star missed the two teams’ first meetings. He’s averaging 14.7 points and 9.9 assists per game over the last 10.

The Pacers aren’t playing their best basketball recently, but have come away with three straight wins. It’s been a different guy stepping up each game, which is one of the real strengths of this team.

George Hill is out for Saturday's contest after he took a hard fall on his left shoulder in the Pacers’ 101-96 win over Milwaukee on Thursday. C.J. Watson will start at point guard in place of Hill.

This game is on the front end of their 16th back-to-back set of the season. Brownsburg native Gordon Hayward and his Utah Jazz play in Indy for the only time this season on Sunday evening.

Probable Starters

C.J. Watson

C.J. Watson

Lance Stephenson

Lance Stephenson

Paul George

Paul George

David West

David West

Roy Hibbert

Roy Hibbert

Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo

Jerryd Bayless

Jerryd Bayless

Jeff Green

Jeff Green

Brandon Bass

Brandon Bass

Kris Humphries

Kris Humphries

Injury Update

Pacers: George Hill (out, left shoulder bruise)
Celtics: Vitor Faverani (out, sore left knee), Avery Bradley (out, sore right ankle), Jared Sullinger (out, mild concussion), Kelly Olynyk (out, sprained left big toe)

Quotable

“Everybody plays 82 games, 41 at home and 41 on the road. March is a tough schedule but we have to win games. It’s as simple as that.” – Frank Vogel on the task of playing 18 games in March

“It’s definitely going to be a challenge. That’s why we got to continue to play well in games so maybe the ones who’s playing a lot of minutes can get a lot of rest [if we] put teams away in the first half.” – George Hill on the road trip

“It’s cool. I just got to pretty much just do what I’ve been doing and make sure I get to the plane on time.”

Noteworthy

  • The Pacers have won the last two meetings.
  • This will be the first road game for Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen.
  • Frank Vogel was an assistant coach in Boston from 2001-04.

Last Meeting

December 22: The Pacers easily handled Celtics, 106-79, in Brad Stevens’ first game back in Indy as coach. Tied at 23 shortly into the second period, the Pacers stepped on the gas, went on a 24-5 run and dominated the rest of the way. Indiana had their way in the paint, outscoring Boston a staggering 50-22.

Lance Stephenson earned his third (of four) triple-doubles on the year, with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Paul George scored 18 of his game-high 24 points in the third stanza and Roy Hibbert added 15 & 12. Guard Avery Bradley led Boston with 13 points and Jeff Green tallied 11.

Broadcast Information | Find Local Listings »

TV: FOX Sports Indiana – Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Brooke Olzendam (sideline reporter/host)
Radio: FM 107.5/AM 1070 The Fan, Pacers Radio Network – Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Michael Grady (studio host)

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