Game Preview: Pacers at Celtics

Wednesday, Dec 21 at 7:30 PM ET at TD Garden

Pacers at Celtics


Aaron Nesmith will make his return to Boston on Wednesday night as the Pacers (15-16) and the Celtics (22-9) meet for the first time this season.

The Celtics drafted Nesmith out of Vanderbilt with the 14th overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. The 6-5 wing spent two seasons in Boston and was part of the Celtics team that reached the 2022 NBA Finals, but struggling to find consistent playing time on a roster that included a pair of All-Star wings in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

Nesmith was traded to Indiana last summer in the deal that sent Malcolm Brogdon to Boston (Daniel Theis, who has yet to play this season after undergoing right knee surgery, which was also dealt from the Celtics to the Pacers). It’s a move that has worked out well for both teams.

Nesmith has found a larger role in Indiana, starting 15 of 27 games and averaging 8.8 points and 3.5 rebounds while shooting 38.7 percent from 3-point range. He has earned rave reviews from his teammates and coaches for his hard-nosed, two-way play, often guarding the opposing team’s best player. The 23-year-old heads back to Boston coming off one of the best games of his career — a 23-point, 10-rebound performance in Sunday’s loss to New York.

“I’m looking forward to this game,” Nesmith said of his return to Boston. “It will be a lot of fun getting to see the guys again and competing against them.”

After three seasons as the starting point guard in Indiana, Brogdon has moved back into a sixth man role in Boston. While his scoring has taken a dip from 19.1 points per game last year to 13.8 this season, the 6-5 guard is much more efficient. After shooting a career-low 31.2 percent from 3-point range last season, Brogdon has rediscovered his shooting stroke with the Celtics, looking much more like the sharpshooter that made the 50/40/90 Club while in Milwaukee. As of Tuesday, Brogdon ranks third in the NBA in 3-point percentage, converting 46.2 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc.

The Celtics got off to the best start in the NBA this season, racing out to a 21-5 record, but have dropped four of their last five, falling a half-game back of Milwaukee in the race for first place in the Eastern Conference .

Still, Boston is clearly one of the favorites to contend for the 2023 NBA title, with Tatum and Brown leading the way. 24-year-old Tatum has inserted his name into the early MVP conversation, averaging 30.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game. Brown has been great as well, averaging 26.4 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 3.5 assists.

Project starters

Pacers: G – Tyrese Haliburton, G – Buddy Hield, F – Andrew Nembhard, F – Jalen Smith, C – Myles Turner

Celtics: G – Marcus Smart, G – Derrick White, F – Jaylen Brown, F – Jayson Tatum, C – Al Horford

Injury report

Pacers: Kendall Brown – out (right tibia stress reaction), Daniel Theis – out (right knee surgery)

Celtics: Danilo Gallinari – out (left knee ACL repair)

last meeting

April 1, 2022: Tyrese Haliburton scored 30 points, going 10-for-11 from the field and 6-for-6 from 3-point range, but the Pacers fell in Boston, 128-123.

“He was aggressive,” Rick Carlisle said of Haliburton’s play. “He got himself going. He got himself on a roll.”

“He was able to go 10-for-11 from the field without disrupting what we were doing as a team. That’s a sign of a great point guard.”

Jalen Smith and Oshae Brissett each tallied 17 points and six rebounds in the loss. Goga Bitadze added 13 points, while Lance Stephenson recorded a double-double off the bench with 11 points and 11 assists.

Jaylen Brown led Boston with 32 points and seven assists, while Jayson Tatum added 31 points, six boards, and six assists. Al Horford chipped in 17 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists for the Celtics.


  • The Pacers have lost five straight regular season road games at Boston and also lost two playoff games at TD Garden over that span. Indiana’s last win in Boston was on March 11, 2018.
  • Pacers center Myles Turner was teammates with Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart on the United States men’s national team at the 2019 FIBA ​​World Cup.
  • Pacers guard Chris Duarte and Celtics guard Payton Pritchard were teammates the University of Oregon from 2019-20.
broadcast information (TV and Radio Listings >>)

TV: Bally Sports Indiana – Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Jeremiah Johnson (sideline reporter/host)

Radio: 93.5/107.5 The Fan – Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Pat Boylan (studio reporter/host)


The Pacers will be back at Gainbridge Fieldhouse after Christmas to host Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday, Dec. 27 at 7:00 PM ET. Find Tickets >>

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