Indiana Pacers: Three things to look for versus Celtics

Domantas Sabonis, Indiana Pacers (Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images)
Domantas Sabonis, Indiana Pacers (Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Boston Celtics
Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics (Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Who will guard Jayson Tatum?

Jayson Tatum is one of the more dynamic players in the business. Tatum’s ability to score at the rim combined with his strong shooting prowess has led the former Duke Blue Devil to average 21.1 points per game this season, a career-high.

Tatum also has a strong handle and forces those defending to exert fundamental defense at all times.

On the other hand, the Pacers have the ability to defend thanks to assistant coach Dan Burke. Not known for their defense prior to coming to Indianapolis, T.J. Warren and Jeremy Lamb have showcased the ability to defend at a high-level.

This allows the Pacers coaching staff to manipulate specific matchups and put players in positions to succeed.

With the return of Gordon Hayward, Tatum has been playing more of a guard role.

For the Pacers, that would translate to a matchup between Tatum and Lamb. However, the Pacers may decide to let Warren handle the defensive responsibilities against Tatum.

Warren has proven to be a more consistent defender. Warren also has the length and scrappiness to give a talent like Tatum issues for all four quarters.

Expect the Pacers coaching staff to test Lamb against Tatum. But if Lamb is unable to hold his own against Tatum, the coaching staff will waste no time leaning on Warren.

The Pacers’ second unit also has the talent to defend Tatum.

Justin Holiday has allowed the Pacers to operate with no drop off when calling on the bench. That trend should continue with Holiday’s capability to defend Tatum.

How the Pacers coaching staff decides to defend Tatum will be interesting. Holding Tatum to a moderate performance will be integral to the Pacers earning a victory.