The injuries have piled up, but the winning streak has lived on. The Celtics limped their way through Thursday night’s tilt with the Hawks with only nine bodies, but they emerged with their 12th consecutive win in the end.
To keep the streak alive, they’ve got to get past a Pacers team that’s on the rise in the Eastern Conference and looking for another big statement win. The Pacers have lost three of their last four, but they’ve now got a healthy Danny Granger and they’re ready to make some noise.
When and Where
Pacers at Celtics
Sunday, Dec. 19, 1 p.m. (CSNNE)
TD Garden, Boston, Mass.
- This is the first of four matchups this season between the Celtics and Pacers; the second one is next Tuesday, Dec. 28, when the C’s visit Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The Celtics are 8-2 against the Pacers so far in the Big Three era.
- Shaquille O’Neal has missed the Celtics’ last four games with a sore right calf. He practiced with the team on Saturday afternoon, and there’s a good chance he returns Sunday.
- Other injury notes — Semih Erden missed practice with a groin pull and is now questionable; Kevin Garnett was limited Saturday but is 100 percent and will play. Jermaine O’Neal is back in practice, and there’s a chance he returns later this week. Rajon Rondo is out for the next couple weeks.
- Kevin Garnett had 17 points and 14 rebounds for the Celtics in their win Thursday night over the Hawks. It was his 13th double-double of the season.
- Ray Allen has made 18 consecutive free throws. He’s now shooting 90.3 percent from the line, the fourth-best mark in the NBA. This would be his ninth season shooting over 90 percent.
- Danny Granger dropped 30 points on the Cavaliers on Friday night, shooting 12-of-22. It was his fifth 30-point game of the season.
The Pacers are a fast-paced but defensive-minded team. They have the young, athletic bodies to control the flow of the game by running up and down the floor, but they also have the active defenders to make life difficult for the Celtics offensively. Roy Hibbert and Mike Dunleavy are both alert defenders, contesting shots with the best of them — even without Rajon Rondo, the C’s will have to keep the ball moving and work to get open shots. As always, it’ll have to be a team effort.