The Indiana Pacers' next challenge for the In-Season Tournament has been revealed, and it's their toughest task yet. After going 4-0 in group play and becoming the first team in NBA history to qualify for the tournament with a point differential of +39, the Pacers will be playing the Boston Celtics in the In-Season Tournament quarterfinals.
This comes as a result of the Group B-leading Milwaukee Bucks getting a close win against the Miami Heat, which gave the Pacers the Boston matchup to look forward to.
This was certainly the least desirable matchup out of the possibilities as if Miami beat Milwaukee by under 10 points, the Pacers would have to face the Bucks, whom they have beaten before this season. If Miami beat Milwaukee by over 10 points, Indiana would have to face the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round, whom they have already beaten twice, including once while fully healthy.
This Celtics matchup will be tough on the Pacers, as the one time these two have met earlier this season was on November 1, the night of one of the worst losses in Pacers franchise history.
On that night, the Celtics took advantage of a Tyrese Haliburton-less Pacers team and beat them 104-155, with the 51-point clobbering being the second-worst loss in Pacers history. This time, however, the Pacers will most likely have the services of Haliburton at their disposal, which will most likely ensure a close matchup at least, as the Pacers have been known to play the Celtics well based on past games ever since the Haliburton trade.
Haliburton or not, the Pacers need to step up their defensive approach in time for this Celtics matchup, as they were utterly embarrassed by Jayson Tatum and company in the last matchup.
Hopefully, Rick Carlisle will come out of the gates with a new defensive strategy, and Tyrese Haliburton will work his magic to continue the Pacers' undefeated run in the In-Season Tournament.
Pacers vs Celtics will tip off on either Monday, November 4, or Tuesday, November 5.