Celtics-Pacers Preview

Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens is feeling better about his team as he returns to his hometown.

He would no doubt like to see former Indiana Pacers guard Evan Turner find some consistency.

Turner will face the team he finished last season with when the Celtics visit the short-handed Pacers on Friday night.

Stevens will be in search of his first NBA win in Indianapolis, where he was born and established himself as one of the game’s brightest young coaches by leading Butler to back-to-back NCAA title game appearances in 2010 and 2011. His Celtics lost all four games to the Pacers last season before Boston won 101-98 on Nov. 7.

The coach said he was "not doing a very good job" after the Celtics (12-21) lost their third straight, 104-95 at home to Charlotte on Monday. They were hardly impressive two nights later, but shook off 39.8 percent shooting for an 89-81 win over Brooklyn in the opener of a three-game trip.

"At the end of the day, that’s the way basketball works, you gotta earn some (victories)," Stevens said. "It feels better when you do that than what happened Monday."

Stevens has mostly used Turner and rookie Marcus Smart in his starting lineup in the aftermath of the Rajon Rondo deal Dec. 18. Turner has started the last five games, posting a season-best 29-point effort in Chicago on Saturday but totaling 30 on 38.7 percent shooting in the other four.

The swingman was traded from Philadelphia to Indiana on Feb. 20, averaging 7.1 points in 27 regular-season games for the Pacers and then 3.3 in 12 postseason contests. Turner signed with Boston in the offseason.

Indiana (14-23) limps home after splitting four games on a trip capped by Wednesday’s 117-102 loss to Golden State. Center Roy Hibbert sprained his left ankle in the first quarter and did not return.

The Pacers were already missing their starting backcourt. Rodney Stuckey was out with a sore right groin suffered in Monday’s 105-101 win over Utah while George Hill missed the entire trip with a strained left groin.

Solomon Hill scored 21 points and David West added 16 against the Warriors, who finished with the second-highest point total allowed by Indiana. The Pacers are giving up 96.6 points per game for one of the league’s best marks.

Six Indiana players scored in double figures.

"I’m satisfied with our effort for most of the game. I like the way we’re playing. We’re sharing the basketball, playing hard and I like our physicality," coach Frank Vogel said.

Hibbert is second on the team with 6.7 rebounds per game and tops it in blocks at 1.8. His presence is a major reason why Indiana’s opponents are shooting 47.8 percent within five feet of the rim, the lowest mark in the NBA.

His absence Friday would be a problem as the Celtics lead the Eastern Conference with an average of 46.4 points in the paint.

That’s where Boston figures to get the ball to Jared Sullinger, who averaged 16.8 points in a six-game stretch before he scored two on 1-of-7 shooting Wednesday.