The Boston Celtics will look to bounce back from a winless weekend when they host the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night.
Boston, which is two games into a seven-game homestand, has lost four of its last five games after falling to the Orlando Magic on Friday and Sunday.
Despite shooting a season-low 34.8 percent without Jayson Tatum (personal reasons), the Celtics fell just a possession short in Sunday’s 95-92 loss.
“Sometimes, you go through stretches as a team … (and) individually,” forward Grant Williams said. “I think that it’s not something that we’d hang our heads down, thinking that we can’t get out of it. I think that we come into this next game, and we just take full opportunity to knock these shots down and still have confidence in each other to shoot them.”
Boston has not eclipsed the 30 percent mark from 3-point range in their last four losses.
On Sunday, though, 22 of the team’s 31 field goals were assisted. Marcus Smart had seven of them, while Jaylen Brown led the Celtics with 24 points and a game-high 14 rebounds.
“We got a lot of great looks, and I thought we did a lot of great things on defense,” Celtics interim coach Joe Mazzulla said. “In a close game situation, you can always focus on (allowing three offensive rebounds in) the last four or five possessions, but there’s a lot of teaching points, both good and bad, throughout the game.”
Boston’s biggest bright spot was the return of big man Robert Williams, who had not played prior to Friday after September knee surgery.
The return of his thunderous dunks energized the crowd, but the Celtics were not able to take advantage of his 7.5 points per game and pick up a win.
“Just trying to figure out putting everything together,” Williams said. “Trying to figure out how I can slide in and help these guys more defensively and offensively.”
Indiana has also lost four of five games, most recently falling to the streaking Knicks 109-106 on Sunday in New York. Forward Aaron Nesmith logged career highs of 23 points and 10 rebounds for his first NBA double-double.
Buddy Hield matched Nesmith’s 23 points, Tyrese Haliburton added 15 and 10 assists, and rookie Bennedict Mathurin also scored 15.
Nesmith was the Celtics’ top draft pick in 2020 (No. 14 overall) and helped the team reach the NBA Finals last summer, but he has averaged 8.8 points and 3.5 rebounds in a more regular role with Indiana. He has started 15 of his 27 games this season.
“I’m looking forward to this game,” Nesmith said. “It will be a lot of fun getting to see the guys again and competing against them.”
Nesmith was 9 of 12 from the field and 4 of 6 from 3-point range in 31 minutes during his career night.
“For this team and for his teammates, he will run through a wall,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “He’s just that kind of a team guy, and he gets really dialed into any kind of an individual challenge that you give him in a game.”
Sunday concluded a stretch of 19 games in 33 days for Indiana.
This is the first meeting between the teams this season. The Celtics have won five of the last six contests, including three out of four last season.
–Field Level Media