Indiana Pacers (19-13)
Boston Celtics (14-17)
Tonight starts the test for the Pacers to see where they are heading. I know it’s only four games, but it’s four games against playoff caliber teams, which means that if the Pacers want to make noise, they need to beat these teams. Even though Boston doesn’t have a winning record, I still think the Pacers need to get this first win under the belt to get the start they want. Just like that short four game road trip that started with the Lakers and a Pacers win, that trip went 3-1, this one could go the same way. If the Pacers play as well as they should play.
It starts with seeing if George Hill can go tonight in my mind. D.J. Augustin has played well in the two games that Hill hasn’t played, but the Pacers need Hill out there. He’s a play maker who can get his own shot and help get shots for others. He’s got that leadership quality that goes a long way with this team as well.
On the defensive side of things, the Pacers will have to contend with Rajon Rondo. He’s a play maker, which is the type of player the Pacers struggle with. I don’t know if George Hill will be able to slow him down, so other Pacers will have to step up and help out. This might leave other guys open, but I’d rather make someone like Jason Collins hit a shot than give Rondo free reign in the lane.
Who knows what to expect out of the Celtics overall as they’ve lost four games in a row, and haven’t looked like a quality team that people expected? The Pacers on the other hand have turned things around, and are in first place in their Central Division. They have a good shot at building some space between the Bulls and them as the Bulls are facing off against the Heat. If the Pacers get the win here, I like the chances for what this short stretch can be. I said originally 2-2 would be where I think the Pacers go through these four games, but let’s see how tonight goes, and I might up it to 3-1.