All we hear about nowadays is how Indiana Pacers forward Paul George is playing poorly, and perhaps he isn’t in that tier of NBA player that he was placed in after the first two months of the season. Some may say he is playing more like George Constanza than Paul George (none would say that). Tonight, The Boston Celtics host George and the Indiana Pacers in a big game for Indiana in the race for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Pacers are looking to sweep the season series with the Celts, while the Celtics can actually be put into the conversation for the eighth seed in the conference with a win. Not necessarily the direction some of the fans want to see the team go in, but the C’s are going to give it their all no matter what. The Pacers have been struggling on the defensive end as of late, usually where they are at their best, so the Celtics are going to have to keep attacking, and not let Indiana get comfortable. The Pacers seem to be uncomfortable in their last four games (all losses), so the Celtics need to keep their foot on the pedal.
Indiana hasn’t been a kind venue for the Celtics, so a good start is key. Rajon Rondo must continue setting up teammates the way he has as of late, and Jeff Green needs to attack the likes of David West and Roy Hibbert. If the team doesn’t attack those bigs, it will slow the game down on both ends, and then West and Hibbert can go to work down low against the C’s undersized front line. Tempo, tempo, tempo is what Brad Stevens should be preaching in this one for the Celtics to have a shot.
The Celts bench has played well in recent games, and needs another good one in Indiana. Kelly Olynyk has been Maaaahvelous! His game is starting to translate better as he figures out when to pick his spots on offense. He still needs to get up-to-speed on defense, but let’s worry about that next year. Chris Babb is still my favorite player on the bench, and I don’t really have a good reason why. On that note, the Celtics are probably in for a long night, and may not keep it close in the tough, Indiana environment. Frankly, a win or a loss is alright, but the tanker in me is still pulling for a L.
Prediction: Pacer 91, Celtics 79