Pacers without Haliburton:
The Indiana Pacers without Tyrese Haliburton were a pretty big mess. Through the 10 games he missed with injury, Indiana went 9-1 and had some pretty embarrassing losses. Some of these losses were against pretty meager teams including the Chicago Bulls, Orlando Magic, and a Phoenix Suns team that was playing without Deandre Ayton, Chris Paul, or Devin Booker.
Through these 10 games, the Pacers scored an average of about 113 points per game, which was down from their 118 points per game in the 10 games before, stretching back to December of 2022 and when Haliburton was healthy (They went 6-4 in those games). Along with the decrease in points, Indiana was down in assists without their best passer (239 vs 264), had more turnovers (154 vs 124), committed more fouls (201 vs 212), and shot much worse from every part of the court despite players like Buddy Hield still being healthy and ready to play (44/35/81 splits vs 48/37/83 splits).
Prior to this 10 game stretch and Tyrese’s injury, the Pacers were sitting at 23-19 and defied everyone’s expectations as they held the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference and were already crushing their expected win total of 23.5 on the entire season. At their best points, Haliburton and Mathurin were playing like MVP and Rookie of the Year candidates, respectively and the Pacers were playing like a well-oiled machine. However, all of that changed after their January 11th matchup against the Knicks.
During that 6-point loss, Tyrese Haliburton came up limping after a layup attempt was blocked and left the game with a left knee injury that kept him sidelined for those aforementioned 10 games. During those 10 games, Indiana’s hopes of a possible playoff run gradually slipped from their hands and they reverted to what they were expected to be at the start of the season, a young, inexperienced team that lost a lot en route to a potential high draft pick.
And as you are going to see, this would not drastically change with Haliburton returning to the team.