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Boston Celtics

NBA Playoffs 2019: Boston Celtics vs. Indiana Pacers series preview

The field is set for the 2019 NBA Playoffs, which begin on Saturday.

NBA.com is your destination for complete coverage of every series from now through the end of the NBA Finals.

Series Schedule

Here is the schedule for the series, which begins on April 14

  • Game 1 - Sunday, April 14 at Boston, 1 p.m.
  • Game 2 - Wednesday, April 17 at Boston, 7 p.m.
  • Game 3 - Friday, April 19 at Indiana, 8:30 p.m.
  • Game 4 - Sunday, April 21 at Indiana, 1 p.m.
  • Game 5 (if necessary) - Wednesday, April 24 at Boston, TBD
  • Game 6 (if necessary) - Friday, April 26 at Indiana, TBD
  • Game 7 (if necessary) - Sunday, April 28 at Boston, TBD

Recapping the season series

Result: Celtics won 3-1

Best game: Nov. 3, 2018 - Pacers 102, Celtics 101; Mar. 29, 2019 - Celtics 114, Pacers 112

Best performance: Kyrie Irving (Mar. 29, 2019) - 30 points, 5 assists, 3 steals, 2 rebounds

There was no way to decipher which was the best meeting between the Celtics and the Pacers.

On Nov. 3, prior to the injury of Indiana's star guard Victor Oladipo, he made all the difference for the Pacers to pick up the win. He scored 24 points to go with 12 rebounds, three assists and three steals and was the best player on the floor that night. With 4.0 seconds on the clock trailing by two points, Oladipo banked in a game-winning 3-pointer to defeat the Celtics.

Boston got its revenge in the next matchup where they blew out the Pacers by 27 at the TD Garden but when Indiana came back to Boston on Mar. 29 with home court advantage in the playoffs on the line, they brought their A-game.

Unfortunately for the Pacers, it was just one of those nights for Kyrie Irving - he went off for 30 points including a game-winning layup at the buzzer to send the visitors packing.

And to officially take home court advantage in this first round playoff matchup, the Celtics rolled Indiana by 20 at Bankers Life Field House, sending a message ahead of this series.

Key Storyline: Can the Celtics flip the playoff switch?

You could argue that no team in the NBA went into the year with higher expectations than the Celtics.

It's been a long and frustrating regular season as one of the most talented teams on paper never seem to hit their stride.

With an ongoing theme of 'wait until the playoffs', that time is finally here - and it's time for the Celtics' to prove that they are capable of flipping the hypothetical switch to finally reach their maximum potential.

They dominated the Pacers in two of their four matchups, while the other two came down to the final buzzer. Indiana has made it this far on their defence and a balanced offensive attack but more than anything, their hard work.

The Pacers have been counted out all season ever since Oladipo went down, so they have nothing to lose - and they're going to play that way.

Now it's time to see if the Celtics can put their money where their mouth is and turn things on to make a push back to the Conference Finals. By the end of this series, I think we'll have a good idea of what this Boston team's ceiling really is this season.

3 Players to Watch

Bojan Bogdanovic

vs. Boston in 2018-19 (four games): 13.5 points (36.8% 3PT), 2.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.5 steals

Bogdanovic is the most important player in this entire series. He's taken over as the premier scorer for the Pacers with Oladipo out, and they're going to need him at his absolute best if they're going to pull off the first round upset.

He scored 27 points in the Pacers' two-point loss to the Celtics in Boston in March but generally didn't have the same success against the Celtics as he had the rest of the NBA.

The Croatian forward turned it on after the All-Star break to keep his team relevant. He posted 20.9 points per game, leading the Pacers in scoring while shooting a remarkable 50.1 percent from the field and 42.2 percent from 3-point land.

If Indiana is going to advance past Boston, he'll have to post similar numbers to the aforementioned averages.

Gordon Hayward

vs. Indiana in 2018-19 (four games): 12.5 points (60.6% FG), 5.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists

Hayward had one of his best games of the season when the Celtics and Pacers last met - he went for 21 points off the bench shooting a perfect 9-for-9 from the field to help Boston clinch home-court advantage in this playoffs series.

The Celtics are a far better team when Hayward is playing well and that has been the case down the stretch of the season. He scored in double-figures in 12 of the last 13 games he played in and he'll be a vital part to their success this postseason.

Terry Rozier

vs. Indiana in 2018-19 (four games): 5.8 points (54.5% 3PT), 3.5 assists, 3.3 rebounds

Rozier's name doesn't pop up on this list because of what he's done against the Pacers this year. In fact, he only scored in double-figures against this team once this season.

Rozier's name is on here because of his increased role while Marcus Smart heals his torn oblique. We saw 'Scary Terry' emerge in last year's first-round playoff series with Irving and Smart out - he averaged 17.6 points, 6.7 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game in helping the Celtics get past the Milwaukee Bucks in seven games.

MORE: Injury Analysis: Update and follow-up on Smart's torn oblique

Boston is going to need more of the same in this series, as he'll slide up in the rotation in Smart's absence.

In the Celtics' final game of the season with nearly the entire rotation out, Rozier went for 21 points on 53.3% shooting from the field and three assists - a good sign as he goes to take on a bigger role for the time being.

Fast Facts

- Both the Celtics and Pacers played seven-game series in the first round of the NBA Playoffs last season - the Celtics advanced past the Bucks while the Pacers fell to the Cavaliers.

- The last time the Celtics and Pacers faced off in the playoffs was 2005 - No. 6 seeded Indiana defeated No. 3 seeded Boston in Game 7 behind 24 points from Stephen Jackson.

- The Celtics have lost in the Eastern Conference Finals two seasons in a row. Their three playoff appearances prior, they fell in the first round.

- In reverse order, the Pacers have lost in the first round of the playoffs three seasons in a row. Their two playoff appearances prior, they lost in the Eastern Conference Finals.

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