The NBA In-Season Tournament continues tonight as two teams’ tickets will be punched for the semifinals in Las Vegas on Thursday.
In the East, the Indiana Pacers, who went undefeated in Group A, will host the Boston Celtics, who won Group C with a 3-1 mark (4:30 p.m., TNT).
The Pacers’ path to the quarterfinals featured three wins against playoff teams from a year ago, all of whom couldn’t keep up with the league’s No. 1 offense. In the four Tournament games, the Pacers averaged a league-best 136.5 points per game. The next closest team in that stat was the Milwaukee Bucks, who averaged 125.5 points per game, 11 less than the Pacers.
With the stakes getting higher, will the Pacers be able to keep up with this wicked offensive pace? If any team can stop them, it may be the Celtics, who allowed just 105.5 points per game to opponents during their four-game Tournament stretch run. Only the New York Knicks, Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers allowed fewer points. However, if the Celtics are going to stop the Pacers tonight, they will have to do so without Kristaps Porzingis, who is missing the game with a calf injury.
Back on Nov. 1, the two teams met in Boston, and the Celtics won by 51(!) points. The Pacers’ high-octane offense also comes with a lackadaisical defense, and if they allow the Celtics to race out to points, it could be another blowout on Monday night. However, Tyrese Haliburton didn’t play in that game, and perhaps that affected the outcome. Tonight’s game should provide a little more intrigue.
Out west, two surprise teams take center stage as the New Orleans Pelicans visit the Sacramento Kings (10 p.m., TNT).
Whichever team qualifies for the semifinals out of this game will be considered an underdog against either the Los Angeles Lakers or Phoenix Suns, whoever wins tomorrow night’s quarterfinal.
The Pelicans won Group B after beating some top teams, including the defending champion Denver Nuggets, Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Clippers. Their only loss came in a 3-point defeat to the Houston Rockets on the road. Meanwhile, the Kings swept Group C after beating the NBA-best Minnesota Timberwolves, Golden State Warriors, Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs.
Just before Thanksgiving, the Pelicans hosted the Kings for a two-game series in Sacramento, where New Orleans won both contests. But now, the game is in Sacramento, where the Kings have only lost twice all season.
BE community, what do you think about tonight’s games? Chime off in the comments section below.