May 21, 2024 - News

NBA playoffs: Celtics face Pacers in Easter Conference Finals

 Tyrese Haliburton #0 of the Indiana Pacers dribbles the ball during the game against the Boston Celtics on January 8, 2024 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The Celts will need to stop — or at least slow down — Pacers star Tyrese Haliburton. Photo: Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

The Celtics are heavy favorites against the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals, boasting a more talented and better-rested roster — but bearing the weight of title-or-bust expectations.

  • Game 1 tips off 8pm at TD Garden.

State of playoffs: The Celts won each of their first two playoff series 4-1, most recently dispatching the Cleveland Cavaliers on May 15.

  • The Pacers, meanwhile, needed seven games — the last on Sunday — to eliminate the New York Knicks after beating the Milwaukee Bucs in the first round.

Know your enemy: The Pacers are led by star point guard Tyrese Haliburton, the team's primary ballhandler and weapon. He's struggled against the Celtics, who have a collection of strong defenders.

  • Indiana is coached by Rick Carlisle, a former NBA Coach of the Year who led the Dallas Mavericks to the title in 2011.

Fun fact: Carlisle was drafted by the Celtics in 1984 and played alongside Larry Bird on Boston's 1986 championship team.

The intrigue: The Celtics will hope to get Kristaps Porziņģis, the team's key offseason addition, back from a calf injury at some point during the series, though likely not tonight.

  • Porziņģis strained his right calf in the final game against the Miami Heat in Round 1 before missing the entire Cavaliers series.

By the numbers: The Celts opened as 9-to-1 favorites to win the series and advance to the NBA Finals.

If you go: Tickets are available starting at about $130. Or you can watch on ESPN.

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