The Indiana Pacers haven’t won four in a row since April 2008, but that didn’t stop Danny Granger(notes) - coming off his best performance of the season - from predicting a victory over the Boston Celtics.
Granger, though, might find it a lot harder to put up the numbers he did in his last game against the Celtics’ defense Saturday night at Conseco Fieldhouse.
Indiana (3-3) has broken out of its early slump to win three in a row, including a 108-94 victory over Golden State on Wednesday. Granger scored 31 points and added a career-high 16 rebounds.
Granger came into the game shooting 38.7 percent, but he went 12 of 24 from the floor against the Warriors and scored 12 of his points in the fourth quarter as Indiana pushed its lead to 17.
“I just tried to switch it up,” he said. “Sometimes, if I hoist a few threes and miss them at the beginning of the game, I kind of start off bad. I started trying to take it to the goal first. I got a layup, hit a few mid-range jump shots. I tried to stay away from a whole lot of 3-pointers. It was effective.”
Granger, shooting 29.3 percent from behind the arc after connecting on 40.4 percent each of the last two seasons, attempted a season-low seven 3-pointers Wednesday, but his 24 field-goal attempts were a season-high.
His big night helped a short-handed Pacers team that was playing without Troy Murphy(notes) (ankle), Mike Dunleavy (knee) and Travis Diener(notes) (foot). A strong defensive effort made up for those absences. After allowing opponents to average 109.0 points in their first three games, the Pacers are giving up 89.7 in the last three.
After facing three teams with losing records, Indiana will take on a much tougher challenge in the Celtics (8-2), who have the Eastern Conference’s best record. The Pacers haven’t won four in a row since April 4-11, 2008, but Granger feels his team is on the right track.
“We’re going to make it four against Boston,” he said. “That’s the plan.”
Indiana faces a Boston team that suffered its second loss of the season in the opener of this set of back-to-backs. The Celtics, who lost to Phoenix last Saturday after a 6-0 start, fell 97-86 to Atlanta on Friday.
One of the NBA’s best defensive teams, Boston held its opponent below 100 points for the ninth time this season, although it wasn’t the team’s best effort. The Celtics fell behind 14-6 in the opening 5 1/2 minutes and were outscored 25-16 in the final quarter. They were outrebounded 47-29.
Paul Pierce(notes), who scored 24 points, bruised his knee on a drive to the basket in the third quarter. He sat out the final few minutes of the quarter, and was wearing a brace and had it taped when he came back early in the fourth.
“It’s a little tender,” Pierce said. “I’m just going to wait and see how it feels when it cools down.”
Boston matched its lowest-scoring game of the season Friday. The Celtics didn’t have trouble offensively against Indiana last season, though, averaging 104.8 points. Ray Allen(notes), who had 10 points Friday, scored 26.5 per game against the Pacers in 2008-09.
Boston has won six of seven against Indiana, though it was challenged in both meetings at Conseco Fieldhouse last season. The Pacers won 95-79 on Nov. 1 and forced overtime in a 122-117 loss Dec. 7.