The Indiana Pacers have their first mini-series of the season with the Celtics.
The Indiana Pacers will host the Boston Celtics for back to back games at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on the 27th and 29th of December. This will be the toughest test thus far for new head coach Nate Bjorkgren in terms of the quality of the opponent.
This is a potential playoff matchup between the Pacers and Celtics, and even though it’s early in the season the Pacers will want to win these so-called ‘statement games’ in order to send a message to the rest of the Eastern Conference. The result of winning both these games goes far beyond the win-loss column, as there is so much more to gain.
Firstly, winning back-to-back games against a formidable Eastern Conference rival, albeit without their All-Star point guard Kemba Walker, will have Pacers fans truly believing that this year is different and that there is a chance of advancing past the first round. The confidence level within this team, organization, and the whole of Indianapolis will elevate as they’ll have entered a new era of Pacer’s basketball.
Furthermore, this will serve as proof that the system change implemented by coach Bjorkgren is not only letting the Pacers’ offense thrive as a modern offense but is also sustainable against top-level opponents.
The Pacers have already attempted 34 threes in their first game against the Knicks and look for this trend to continue. The players will truly buy into the offense that coach Bjorkgren wants to run if, in fact, they can come away with two big wins against the Boston Celtics.
The scouting report against the Boston Celtics will be heavily focused on the two rising stars in Jayson Tatum (2020 All-Star) and Jaylen Brown. Coming off a loss on Christmas Day to the Brooklyn Nets they’ll look to bounce back strongly. The two young stars will do most of the damage as they average a combined 55 points per game accounting for 46% of the team’s total points.
Victor Oladipo, T.J. Warren, and even Malcolm Brogdon at times will all have their hands full and will have to limit Tatum and Brown if the Pacers want to win these two contests, easier said than done.
The X-Factor: Victor Oladipo looked great in the first game against the Knicks, posting a stat line of 22 points, four rebounds, and four assists with a steal. To go with this the former All-Star shot an impressive 64.3% from the field and 40.0% from the three-point line in under 29 minutes.
Oladipo looked fluent on the court trying to return to his old self. While not quite there yet he is trending in the right direction. If Oladipo can continue this level of play against the Celtics there is no doubt in my mind the Pacers can win back-to-back games against the C’s. This is the reason why I have the former second overall pick as the X-factor in this mini-series.