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2-on-2: Celtics vs. Pacers (Game 11 of 66)

Michael Hickey/US Presswire

The Celtics hope to avoid this sight Saturday night in Indiana.Supposedly there's a big football game Saturday night that's supposed to upstage Celtics-Pacers. Maybe a few less eyeballs on Boston's struggling hoopsters isn't such a bad thing. Under that cloak of darkness, the Celtics (4-6, 1-3 away) travel to Indiana to meet the Pacers (8-3, 4-0 home) at newly renamed Bankers Life Fieldhouse. ESPN Boston's Greg Payne joins me for a quick game of 2-on-2 given the quick turnaround for this one:


1. Coming off an emotional game with the Bulls, playing the second night of a back-to-back on the road against a team that beat them a week ago, give me one reason the C's win Saturday.

Payne: The Celtics will win Saturday simply because they're tired of losing. After being in the locker room Friday night, I think things have finally boiled to the point where this club will finally click out of desperation more than anything else. The frustration level is mounting, but so is the desire to improve and win games and I think those two will combine Saturday and you'll see an upstart group with a sense of urgency.

Forsberg: The Pacers are coming off their own back-to-back having played Friday night in Toronto. But not only did they actually complete a rally from a 16-point first-half deficit to win, Danny Granger ought to be well rested after getting ejected in the first half. As Doc Rivers lamented last night, the Celtics always seem to have this schedule quirk, where they have to travel to Indiana for the second night of a back-to-back each year -- and they've lost three of those games the past three seasons. Why won't a fourth occur? As Payne suggested, Boston is truly desperate. But it all hinges on the start. If the Celtics come out of the gates fast, get Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett going a bit, they can absolutely win this game. In fact, they almost have to at this point.


2. More likely to have a big game Saturday: KG or Paul Pierce?

Payne: Pierce. His shot isn't falling right now, so I think we'll see the Pierce who compensates by putting his head down, attacking the rim, and getting to the free throw line. Similar to his team as a whole, Pierce's effectiveness Saturday could be born out of desperation more than anything else.

Forsberg: Pierce. KG limped through the locker room last night with his left ankle wrapped in ice. That's not an encouraging sign for an aging player already struggling to find consistency. Not sure how much Pierce has in his tank, but this is definitely the sort of night where he shows why he's the captain and musters the energy for a breakout game. That being said, this is also the sort of night that Boston could really use a non-Big 4 player -- maybe Brandon Bass or maybe even the Purdue rookies, JaJuan Johnson or E'Twaun Moore, who played their college ball nearby -- to give a little extra spark to a team in desperate need of a boost.