Pacers put unbeaten home playoff record on the line vs. Celtics road success in Game 3

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Pacers can learn the numbers.

They’re down 2-0 in one other best-of-seven collection and are heading dwelling, the place they’re an ideal 6-0 throughout this season’s playoff run. They want a win in Saturday’s pivotal Recreation 3 to get again on this collection, simply as they did final week towards New York. And, sure, they’re dealing with the top-seeded Boston Celtics, who’re an ideal 4-0 on the street this postseason.

The bleakest a part of this equation for Indiana is the opportunity of shedding All-NBA guard Tyrese Haliburton. The league’s help champ departed within the third quarter of a Recreation 2 loss after re-injuring his left hamstring. He didn’t return.

But this Pacers staff, largely composed of playoff newcomers or newcomers to high-profile postseason roles, has not blinked when others wrote them off — and they don’t intend to begin now with a lot at stake this weekend.

“Our followers give us a lot power,” mentioned Indiana ahead Pascal Siakam, a midseason acquisition from Toronto the place he received an NBA title. “Clearly, for me, I’m experiencing for the primary time the power they usually’re so keen about our staff. We will’t wait to go on the market Saturday and simply the power they’re going to carry to help us.”

Haliburton’s standing might change the whole lot. The Pacers listed him as questionable on Friday’s damage report. Whereas the damage might dampen the temper in Indy, it received’t change the very fact this would be the metropolis’s greatest weekend in years.

The 108th working of the Indianapolis 500, the world’s largest single-day sporting occasion anticipated to attract a crowd of practically 300,000, is sandwiched in between Saturday’s Recreation 3 and Monday’s Recreation 4.

Ought to rain pressure the race’s first postponement since 1997, it will be rescheduled for Monday — making a wildly uncommon Pacers and racers Memorial Day doubleheader.

The conflagration of a present constructed for pace, just like the Pacers, isn’t misplaced on these guys, most of whom are sharing Indy’s Might stage with the IndyCar stars and the Colts, who’ve been holding offseason exercises on the town. The one lacking characteristic is Caitlin Clark, who’s on a West Coast journey with the WNBA’s Indiana Fever.

However make no mistake: The Pacers are desperate to shake issues up each bit as a lot because the Best Spectacle in Racing — with or with out Haliburton.

“Like I mentioned, shedding sucks,” Pacers guard Andrew Nembhard mentioned after taking part in 4 video games in seven days in three cities. “It was an extended street journey. I believe it is going to be good for all of us to get again in our personal beds. We’re excited to play in entrance of our followers, and it’s going to be a giant weekend with the race in there. So we will’t wait to get again on our dwelling court docket.”

The Celtics, in the meantime, come to city with a distinct sort of benefit.

They received twice at Miami within the first spherical earlier than returning dwelling to shut out the Warmth in 5 video games. Then within the convention semifinals, they received twice at Cleveland earlier than eliminating the Cavaliers in 5 video games. In the event that they win the following two, Boston will probably be again within the NBA Finals for the second time in three years, courtesy of a convention finals sweep.

Clearly, the mathematics works — even when Boston doesn’t count on issues to go fairly so easily.

“They have been down 2-0 in a collection that went to Recreation 7. They do an awesome job defending their dwelling court docket,” Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla mentioned. “So it’s going to take much more to get the job accomplished. I do know they’re going to reply, so it’s as much as us to do the identical.”

Boston has different points to kind out, too.

Whereas Jaylen Brown matched his playoff profession excessive with 40 factors in Recreation 2 after being left off the All-NBA groups, Jayson Tatum struggled to get going early.

The Celtics additionally misplaced backup heart Luke Kornet with a sprained left wrist Thursday. He’s listed as uncertain and heart Kristaps Porzingis, who has not performed since April 29, has been dominated out once more Saturday.

With out Kornet and Porzingis, Mazzulla went with a smaller lineup that included former Pacers ahead Oshae Brissett. The stats confirmed Mazzulla’s transfer slowed down Haliburton and the league’s highest-octane offense.

“The person protection was good,” Mazzulla mentioned. “We have been capable of get in keeping with them going out to shooters and, we talked about this, somewhat bit higher communication. I assumed we had somewhat bit extra endurance (defensively).”

Might it work once more in Indianapolis?

A part of the reply will probably be decided by Haliburton’s standing. The remainder could also be decided by what sort of game-day technique they make use of to beat a hobbled Haliburton.

“When your franchise man goes down, clearly it’s powerful,” Pacers guard T.J. McConnell mentioned. “However that’s a time for everybody to step up and take an even bigger position. We’ve accomplished a great job of that when he has been out. Clearly, it hurts when he goes down, but it surely’s a kind of issues the place it’s the following man up mentality and, clearly, we’ll see.”