Celtics-Pacers preview: Pierce going strong

Celtics-Pacers preview: Pierce going strong
March 6, 2013, 10:15 am
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Paul Pierce and the Celtics will see one of the best teams in the East tonight in Indianapolis.

(USA Today Sports)

INDIANAPOLIS — In the midst of Avery Bradley having a breakout night at Philadelphia, Paul Pierce was doing what Paul Pierce does all the time. He gave the C's what they needed.

The captain had 18 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists in the victory, the kind of all-around game that stands out for most players, but truth be told, is more like another day at the office for Pierce.

Making his recent play even more impressive is that it has come with him playing with a pinched nerve that he says won't improve anytime soon.

Still, C's coach Doc Rivers said Pierce's injury is not something to which he is giving a significant amount of thought or concern at this point. There are no plans in terms of sitting Pierce down to rest the injury.

"We'll wait and see. Paul's a player," Rivers said. "My thing with him, if I think he's playing tired then yeah, we'll do that. At the end of the day, Paul's different than a lot of other guys. Kobe's like that. There are certain guys, they like playing. To them, not playing makes them worst."

Pierce's play will be one of the keys to Boston extending its winning streak to four in a row tonight against a Pacers team that's one of the hottest in the league right now.

Here are some other keys to tonight's game.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Indiana has the kind of size, strength and depth in the frontcourt that could cause major problems for the Celtics. Boston's ability to keep the rebounding margin relatively close will go far in their efforts at an upset road win.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Kevin Garnett vs Roy Hibbert. This may very well be the game in which the 10-day guys -- D.J. White and Shavlik Randolph -- take to the floor. Hibbert's size will wear down Garnett if the C's aren't careful, and there's no telling if Chris Wilcox will be enough against one of the bigger teams in the NBA.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Paul George is an All-Star, but he was an all-dud the last time these two teams met in Boston on Jan. 4 when he scored 9 points on 4-for-18 shooting in the C's 94-75 win. Look for him to fare better inside the comfy confines of Conseco Fieldhouse.

STAT TO TRACK: Indiana had the third-best record in the month of February (9-3), and their ability to get to the free-throw line had a lot to do with that. This season, the Pacers rank 12th in the league in free throw attempts per game (22.9). But in February, they led the league in free throw attempts with 27.6 per game.