The Indiana Pacers will host the Boston Celtics on Saturday night in an Eastern Conference showdown.
Both teams will be playing their second game in as many nights. The Pacers (4-5) continue to be a tale of two teams. They’ve yet to win on the road in five attempts but haven’t lost at home (4-0). It will be the first of three matchups this season with the Celtics.
Both teams made changes to their starting lineups Friday. The Pacers inserted C.J. Miles into the lineup and moved Monta Ellis to the second unit. For Boston, Brad Stevens moved Kelly Olynyk and Marcus Smart into the lineup with Brown and Zeller coming off the bench.
The Pacers have played two consecutive overtime games this week, both against the Philadelphia 76ers. The Sixers picked up their first victory of the season Friday night at the expense of Indiana.
One player who won’t be bothered by the back-to-back games is Myles Turner. He was limited to 20 minutes Friday night because foul trouble. He eventually fouled out and finished with just five points on the night.
"I was never able to establish any sort of rhythm," Turner told The Indianapolis Star. "Once I got out there, it was like I was right back out. I let the team down."
Coach Nate McMillan knows his team let one get away. "The things that you need to do to win a ballgame, we didn’t do," he said.
The Celtics snapped a three-game losing streak Friday as they trounced the Knicks 115-87, evening their record at 4-4 on the season. "That’s the way we should play," Brad Stevens said after the win. "I thought our whole team played better, but we still have work to do."
Boston was able to get to the line 43 times, more than doubling their season high to this point.
Isaiah Thomas led the way with 29 points and figures to be a tough matchup for Indiana. Thomas didn’t shoot well in four games last season against the Pacers (39 percent), but with George Hill playing on another team, Indiana has struggled with guard penetration so far this season.
Slow starts have plagued the Celtics in the early going this season, but they put up 31 points in the first quarter this time around.
"If we didn’t come out like that, we were probably going to lose again," Thomas said.
The Pacers and Celtics have both shot well from behind the arc this season. They each came into Friday night’s games tied for third in the NBA, shooting 37.8 percent from deep.
Both of these teams were predicted by many to be in the top half of the Eastern Conference playoff picture. The slow starts for each make for an intriguing early-November game.
The Celtics are again expected to be without Al Horford (concussion) and Jae Crowder (sprained left ankle). The Pacers will be without Rodney Stuckey (hamstring).