Boston Celtics at Indiana Pacers
When: 8:00 PM ET, Friday, April 5, 2019
Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana
Preview for Digital Sports Desk by Gracenote
INDIANAPOLIS – The Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers are likely headed toward a first-round matchup in the Eastern Conference playoffs, but where that series starts will depend plenty on the result of Friday night’s matchup between the two teams in Indianapolis. Both squads were victorious in their respective games Wednesday night, leaving them tied for fourth place in the East, 2 1/2 games behind third-place Philadelphia.
The Celtics currently own the tiebreaker by virtue of winning two of the first three meetings and holding a one-game advantage in conference record, but the Pacers have an opportunity to get a leg up at home. “Every win counts. Every game, we have to play like it’s our last possession or our last game,” Indiana forward Thaddeus Young told reporters. “We have to get as many wins as possible to keep up with that four spot. We just need to continue the course and continue to play and just take it from there.” The Celtics won four of their last five, including a 114-112 win over the Pacers at home last week that gave them the current tiebreaker advantage. Gordon Hayward continued his solid stretch run with 25 points in a 112-102 victory at Miami on Wednesday.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN, NBCS Boston, FS Indiana
ABOUT THE CELTICS (47-32): Hayward scored 15 of his points after halftime in Wednesday’s win and hopes the team follows his lead in playing its best basketball going down the stretch. “Everyone made big-time plays for us,” Hayward told reporters. “We want to be playing the best we can be going into the playoffs.” The former All-Star, who has experienced ups and downs after missing virtually all of last season with a foot injury, scored at least 11 points in six straight games to raise his season average to 11.3.
ABOUT THE PACERS (47-32): The win in Detroit snapped a 10-game road losing streak for Indiana, which knows it needs to solve that problem to get anywhere in the postseason. “We talked about trying to be road tough tonight,” coach Nate McMillan told reporters after his team held the Pistons to 38.8 percent shooting. “We wanted to come out and play well, and I thought the guys did from start to finish. Offensively, we didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, but (our) defense was able to help hold the lead.” Young led five players in double figures with 21 points while guard Cory Joseph tied a season high with 12 assists.
1. The home team took each of the first three meetings, with the Pacers defending their court with a 102-101 win Nov. 3.
2. Celtics PG Kyrie Irving scored 23 points in the win over the Heat and had 30 against Indiana last week.
3. Indiana PG Darren Collison (groin) and SG Wesley Matthews (hamstring) both missed the last two games and are considered day-to-day.