Celtics vs. Pacers: Can Indiana Stand Up to Boston in the ECF?

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(Photo : (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)) INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – DECEMBER 04: Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics handles the ball while being guarded by Tyrese Haliburton #0 of the Indiana Pacers in the first quarter during the NBA In-Season Tournament at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on December 04, 2023 in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement

The Eastern Conference Finals are locked in. 

The Boston Celtics will take on the Indiana Pacers for a chance to play in the 2024 NBA Finals. 

The Celtics dominated their second-round opponent, defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers in five games. While the Pacers battled the Knicks in a grueling seven-game series, putting New York away behind an epic Game 7 performance.

Will Boston continue to take care of business on their way to the finals, or will the Pacers rain on the Celtics championship parade? 

RELATED ARTICLE: Celtics Star Kristaps Porzingis’ Injury Status For Eastern Conference Finals Given Hopeful Update

Kristaps Porzingis Health Status

The Boston Celtics will benefit from a few extra days of rest. Quickly disposing of their postseason opponents has allowed star big man Kristaps Porzingis more time to recover from a calf strain.

Porizingis has been out since Game 4 of the Celtic’s first series against the Miami Heat, but there is optimism for his return in the Conference Finals.  

In their series against Indiana, Porizingis should look to use his floor spacing and size to be able to neutralize the effectiveness of Myles Turner, who demonstrated his versatility in the series against the Knicks. 

Indianapolis Turning it Up to 500 

Indiana Pacers v New York Knicks - Game Seven
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – MAY 19: Pascal Siakam #43 and Tyrese Haliburton #0 of the Indiana Pacers celebrate after beating the New York Knicks 130-109 in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Second Round Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on May 19, 2024 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
(Photo : Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The spotlight will be on the Pacers’ young core led by 24-year-old point guard Tyrese Haliburton, who rose to the occasion for Indiana in their second-round matchup versus New York.

Haliburton’s ascension in the basketball world has been compelling as he established himself as a top point guard in the game through becoming an All-Star, while leading the Pacers to the postseason for the first time since the 2019-20 season. 

His next task will be trying to get his Indiana squad over the hump against a battle-tested Celtics team, who for the most part have had their number in all regular season matchups, beating the Pacers 3-2. 

The Pacers also have a great mix of veterans. Myles Turner has been with the team since 2015 and Pascal Siakam, who was traded to Indiana from the Toronto Raptors adds championship experience, along with T.J. McConnell, who is also a nine-year pro in the NBA.  

Head coach Rick Carlisle has championship experience as well, having won one with the Dallas Mavericks in 2011. 

The question is, can Indiana’s defense hold up against the Celtics?

The Pacers were one of the best teams on offense in the NBA last season, ranked second in offensive rating at 121.0 throughout the regular season. 

However, they struggled defensively throughout the season and at times in their second-round matchup against the Knicks. 

The Pacers do have big wings in Aaron Nesmith and Pascal Siakam that could hang with both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, but they would have to dig deeper on defense to stop the Celtics, who are also a top-five offense in their own right and as well as an elite defense. 

Boston doesn’t play as fast as the Pacers, but they are incredibly versatile and have the depth that should cause some problems. 

Beantown 

Boston hasn’t completely opposed their will on their opponents quite like Celtics fans have hoped. They’ve still managed to handle their opponents, despite playing the Heat without Jimmy Butler and the Cavs without Donovan Mitchell for a portion of the series. 

Still, they should be a favorite against the Indiana Pacers. 

Stopping Tyrese Haliburton should be the primary goal for the Celtics in this Conference Finals matchup. He torched Boston throughout the regular season, averaging 18.9 points and 8.9 assists per game in matchups. Jrue Holiday and Derrick White should have their hands full throughout the series as they try to halt Tyrese Haliburton and Andrew Nembhard.

READ MORE: Knicks’ Jalen Brunson Suffers Devastating Injury in Game 7 Loss To Pacers

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