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NBA In-Season Tournament Quarterfinal preview: Celtics head to Pacers in first of four ties

The NBA In-Season Tournament group stage is now complete, leaving eight teams in the battle to become the first ever champions of the new competition.

The Boston Celtics hit the road to play the Indiana Pacers and the Milwaukee Bucks entertain the New York Knicks in the Eastern Conference. 

In the West, the New Orleans Pelicans make the trip to the Sacramento Kings and the LA Lakers host the Phoenix Suns. The four games will take place on Monday and Tuesday, with two games on each day.

NBA In-Season Tournament Quarterfinal schedule:

AwayHomeLocationTime (ET)TVOdds
Boston CelticsIndiana PacersGainbridge Fieldhouse

Indianapolis, IN
7:30 PM, Monday, December 4TNTCeltics -5.5
New Orleans PelicansSacramento KingsGolden 1 Center

Sacramento, CA
10 PM, Monday, December 4TNTKings -3.0
New York KnicksMilwaukee BucksFiserv Forum

Milwaukee, WI
7:30 PM, Tuesday, December 5TNTBucks -4.5
Phoenix SunsLos Angeles Arena

Los Angeles, CA
10 PM, Tuesday, December 5TNTLakers -1.5

Haliburton concern for Pacers before Celtics clash

The Indiana Pacers won all four group stage games but face a challenge against the Boston Celtics in the quarterfinals - and they could be without star guard Tyrese Haliburton.

The Pacers point guard scored a career-high 44 points against Miami in the first of two straight games against the Heat, but he missed the second game with a knee injury.

Indiana managed to beat Miami in that second game despite Haliburton’s absence, but they will hope he can face Boston as he is currently listed as questionable.

Boston is on a three-game winning streak ahead of Monday’s game. All of those successes have come at TD Garden, but they are 3-4 on the road across their last seven away games.

The Celtics have won their last three meetings with Indiana and back at the start of November they crushed the Pacers 155-104 - their biggest win of the season to date. But that game was in Boston, and with the upcoming one being played in Indiana, it could be more difficult for the Celtics.

Odds to win In-Season Tournament MVP

Pelicans and Kings making noise in the West

As with the group games, the quarterfinal ties count towards regular season records. Two contenders jockeying for position in the West meet in the late game on Monday as the Sacramento Kings welcome the New Orleans Pelicans to the Golden 1 Center.

The Kings claimed the third seed in the West last season and the early signs this year suggest they can back that up with another playoff appearance: they have an 11-7 record after 18 games, good for fourth in the conference.

Sacramento enters this quarterfinals contest after an impressive 123-117 win over reigning NBA champions the Denver Nuggets. With De'Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis on their roster, the Kings are capable of taking on any team in the league.

The Pels shouldn’t be underestimated, but their play away from home is a concern as they have six defeats in their last seven on the road. 

New Orleans are also likely to be without guard C.J. McCollum as he continues to recover from a collapsed right lung, an issue that has seen him miss 13 of their last 15 games.

Bucks finding their feet under Adrian Griffin

The Milwaukee Bucks endured a rocky start to the season under first-year coach Adrian Griffin but have started to hit their stride ahead of their quarterfinal clash with the New York Knicks on Tuesday.

The Bucks lost four of their opening nine games but are 9-2 across their last 11 and at home they look close to invincible, with nine wins in 10 games so far.

They will need to be at their best to overcome the Knicks, who are one of the league's best road teams so far this term. 

The Knicks are 6-4 on their travels and they pushed Milwaukee all the way when these sides met at the Fiserv Forum in November, slipping to a five-point defeat despite briefly taking the lead late.

The Knicks also have a bunch of players who have gone deep in the single-elimination NCAA Tournament, and the experience that Jalen Brunson, Josh Hart, Donte DiVincenzo, and Julius Randle have in that department could make a difference in the In-Season Tournament knockout stages.

Lakers and Suns to complete quarterfinals

The last of the four quarterfinal ties is a star-studded match-up between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night.

The LA outfit sit in seventh spot in the West with a 12-9 overall record but they won all four of their group games in this competition, which includes a 122-119 win over the Suns.

Phoenix have played better lately but they have struggled against the Lakers this season, losing both meetings so far. 

If Phoenix wants to go all the way and win the inaugural edition of the In-Season Tournament, they need to find a way to overcome LeBron James and co. on Tuesday, and they will likely have to do so without Bradley Beal and Eric Gordon due to injuries.

Odds displayed in this article were correct at the time of writing and are subject to change.

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