Central Notes: Holiday, Bucks, Pacers, Allen

The top two teams in the East — the Celtics and Bucks — face off on Wednesday night in Boston. It will be All-Star guard Jrue Holiday‘s first matchup against his former club this season.

Holiday, who was traded to Portland in the Damian Lillard blockbuster before being rerouted to the Celtics, says he has no hard feelings towards the Bucks, though he would’ve appreciated a heads-up that he might get dealt, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Holiday expressed a desire to be a “Buck for life” just days before the trade was made.

I think that they got what they wanted, so I can’t be mad at that,” Holiday said. “A warning would’ve been cool. But other than that, I’m in the best place that I can be to compete against them, which is for the top team in the East and, hopefully, the top team in the league.

Holiday helped the Bucks win their first championship in 50 years in 2021, but he says Wednesday’s matchup doesn’t hold any particular significance to him other than two of the best teams in the league competing against each other.

It’s not like I circled this one on my calendar or anything,” Holiday said. “I think that this is a big game because of the two teams that are playing, I think because of the caliber players that are on the court and all that, so that’s what I would like for it to be about, not me playing against the Bucks.”

Here’s more from the Central:

  • The Pacers made a change to their starting lineup on Tuesday, replacing Bennedict Mathurin and Obi Toppin with Buddy Hield and Aaron Nesmith. Hield and Nesmith started most of last season, but had been coming off the bench in 2023/24. As Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star writes, head coach Rick Carlisle said the move was designed to give the starters more shooting, with the Pacers trying to clinch their in-season tournament group — which they did after defeating Atlanta. All four players performed well in a game that didn’t feature much defense — the final score was 157-152. However, Carlisle wouldn’t commit to that new starting five going forward, and Nesmith will be sidelined for Wednesday’s game against Toronto with a right wrist sprain, Dopirak tweets. Second-year guard Andrew Nembhard will also miss his third straight game with lower back soreness.
  • The Pacers selected Jarace Walker No. 8 overall and Ben Sheppard No. 26 overall in June’s draft, but neither player has been in the team’s rotation this fall. On Wednesday, the two first-round picks were sent to the G League to play for Indiana’s affiliate, the Mad Ants, and were recalled ahead of tonight’s matchup with the Raptors, per Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. “I was happy,” said Walker, who scored 30 points in a Mad Ants win. “Hooping is hooping to me at the end of the day, no matter if it’s NBA, G-League, JUCO, I just love basketball. Just being out there, even with an awesome group of guys that I got to get closer with today, I had a good time today.”
  • A slow 2-3 start for the Cavaliers this fall coincided with the absence of center Jarrett Allen, who was dealing with a bone bruise in his ankle. As Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com details in a subscriber-only story, the Cavs have started to climb the standings upon Allen’s return, going 6-3, including four straight victories, despite other players being injured. While he doesn’t always put up gaudy individual stats, the 25-year-old is the defensive anchor for Cleveland, according to Fedor, who notes that Allen did an admirable job slowing Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid the past two games.
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