The NBA kicks off the quarterfinals of its inaugural In-Season tournament tonight with a pair of games. One game will be from each conference. The Boston Celtics (15-4) face the Indiana Pacers (10-8) in the opening game of the quarters at Gainbridge Fieldhouse at 7:30 p.m. (ET). The New Orleans Pelicans (11-10) square off against the Sacramento Kings (11-7) in the second contest with tip set for 10 p.m. (ET).
The Celtics will be without starting center Kristaps Porzingis for tonight’s clash, while the Pacers are expected to be fully healthy. Meanwhile, the Kings and Pelicans will be without key role players.
NBA Rumors: Tyrese Haliburton, Obi Toppin, Chris Duarte and Kristaps Porzingis
Kristaps Porzingis Could Return This Week
Porzingis’ lingering calf injury will cost him the fourth straight game tonight. However, Boston is optimistic that he’ll be able to return to action this week, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 4, 2023
If the Celtics can get by the Pacers tonight, the Cs will face the winner of Milwaukee and New York on Thursday in Las Vegas. If Boston falls to Indiana, the Celtics will hit the floor again on Friday.
Boston enters the In-season quarterfinals on a three-game winning streak and is 4-0 without Porzingis this season. Al Horford again replaces Porzingis in the starting lineup for his eighth start of the season. Horford averages 10.0 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 3.6 assists with the C’s first five.
Tyrese Haliburton and Obi Toppin
Indiana listed three players on its initial injury report. But Pacers’ coach Rick Carlisle announced about two hours before tip-off of tonight’s game that he expected Tyrese Haliburton and Obi Toppin to play.
Carlisle said he expects Tyrese Haliburton and Obi Toppin to play.
— Dustin Dopirak (@DustinDopirak) December 4, 2023
Haliburton and Toppin were indeed in the starting lineup. Haliburton sat out Indiana’s 144-129 win over Miami on Saturday due to a right knee bone bruise and an upper respiratory infection. Toppin was listed as questionable to play due to an ankle injury.
Jalen Smith (heel) is the other player on the injury list and will miss his third straight contest. Smith is expected to be re-evaluated this week, and the timeline for his recovery should come into focus once this occurs.
Kings and Pelicans Injury Report
Sacramento and New Orleans have ruled out two players for their quarterfinals matchup at Golden 1 Center. The Kings will be without Chris Duarte and Alex Len (ankle). Meanwhile, Larry Nance Jr. (right rib fracture) and Matt Ryan (right elbow).
Duarte is dealing with knee soreness, league sources told Sean Cunningham of Fox 40 KTXL. It is the second straight game that Duarte will sit out. He averages 4.7 points and 2.0 rebounds in 15.1 minutes.
Chris Duarte will not play tonight for Sacramento when they host the New Orleans Pelicans due to knee soreness, according to league sources.
— Sean Cunningham (@SeanCunningham) December 4, 2023
Len, who has appeared in six games, remains out and is not expected to return until at least January.
Larry Nance Jr aggravated his right rib fracture on November 27 and is expected to miss approximately three to five more weeks. Ryan is missing his ninth consecutive game, with the last two due to right elbow soreness.