Celtics and Pacers continue series in Beantown
Boston, MA (Sports Network) – The Indiana Pacers will have Defensive Player
of the Year Ron Artest back in the lineup tonight, as they try to take a 3-0
lead in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the
Boston Celtics at the FleetCenter.
The top-seeded Pacers beat the No. 8 Celtics 104-88 in Game 1, and were able
to defeat Boston 103-90 in Game 2, with both contests at Conseco Fieldhouse..
Artest missed game 2 because he had been suspended one game for leaving the
bench in Game 1 when fellow All-Star Jermaine O’Neal was involved in a brief
scuffle with Boston’s Brandon Hunter. Artest started onto the court when he
saw O’Neal lose his composure, but headed back to the bench after a few steps.
In the first game of the series, Artest scored 24 points, grabbed six rebounds
and dished out five assists in 39 minutes of action.
O’Neal has averaged 23 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks in the first two
games of the series, while Al Harrington has been strong with 13 points and a
team-leading 11.5 boards per game.
All-Star guard Paul Pierce has led the Celtics in scoring (23.5 ppg) and
rebounding (8.5 rpg) through the first two contests, while point guard Chucky
Atkins has averaged 20 points and a team-high five assists.
Boston, which has won six of its last 10 playoff contests as the host, is 3-2
in its last five Game 3s in the postseason, while Indiana is just 1-4 in its
last five Game 3s.
Indiana has lost five straight playoff games on the road.
The Celtics won five of their final seven games at home in the regular season
and finished with just a 19-22 record at the FleetCenter. Indiana, which won
its final two road contests, was an impressive 27-14 as the visitor this
Indiana, which is making its 14th trip to the playoffs in its past 15 seasons,
lost in six games to the Celtics in the opening round of last year’s playoffs.
This is the fourth first round playoff meeting between the two teams, as the
Celtics walked away with a win in all four previous meetings. Indiana team
president Larry Bird helped Boston defeat the Pacers in a classic five-game
series in 1991 before sweeping Indiana the following year.
The last time the Celtics were eliminated in the first round was in 1995, when
they fell to the Orlando Magic, 3-1.
Game 4 is scheduled for Sunday at the FleetCenter.