2 positives, 2 negatives from Indiana Pacers win vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

Indiana Pacers, Cleveland Cavaliers, Tyrese Haliburton
Indiana Pacers, Cleveland Cavaliers, Tyrese Haliburton /
2 of 5
Indiana Pacers, Cleveland Cavaliers, Aaron Nesmith
Indiana Pacers, Cleveland Cavaliers, Aaron Nesmith /

Positive: Aaron Nesmith leads balanced bench scoring attack

Just like the season opener against the Washington Wizards, the Indiana Pacers offense was led by a balanced scoring attack. However, it did not seem this way in the early stages of the game.

In fact, judging from Indiana’s early first-quarter play, it seemed as if this was going to be a blowout loss, as the Pacers only had 12 points with five minutes remaining in the first quarter. These woes were quickly quelled, as the Pacers scored 19 points in the final five minutes of the quarter, going into the second quarter only down seven.

The second quarter was where things really popped off for the Indiana Pacers, as Indiana completely embarrassed Cleveland, winning the quarter 29-12. Yes, the Pacers held the Cavaliers to 12 points in a quarter.

The Pacers continued this barrage for the rest of the game, following up a 31-point third quarter with a 34-point fourth quarter en route to a 125-113 win, a figure that seemed impossible judging from Indiana’s early first quarter output.

Similar to the Wizards game, the Pacers had multiple players in double figures. Leading the charge off the bench was Aaron Nesmith, who set a new career-high with 26 points (10/16 FG, 5/9 3PT, 1/2 FT) and led the Pacers in scoring on the night in 30 minutes of action.

For a player who came into the league off his defense, Nesmith showed some amazing scoring potential against Cleveland, hitting threes, driving to the rim under contact, and finishing savvy at the basket, torturing the Cavaliers defenders one by one in the process.

Recently, Nesmith inked a three-year $33 million contract extension with the Pacers that will keep him in blue and gold until 2027. As it seems right now, that contract may have been a severe underpay with the way Nesmith is performing, as he seems to have taken his offensive repertoire to another level while maintaining that same defensive prowess that got him to the league in the first place.

In today’s league, quality two-way players are hard to come by, especially role players, and Nesmith fits his role perfectly, as he can defend the opposing team’s best scorer while also being liable to have a fantastic scoring night himself if called upon.

Of course, it is hard to forget the reactions that initially followed the Aaron Nesmith/Malcolm Brogdon trade in the summer of 2022, with almost every fan calling it a fleece for the Celtics and outright writing off Nesmith as a throwaway in the deal.

In the 15 months since that trade, Nesmith has done everything possible to prove those doubters wrong, improving on every aspect from his Celtics days and erasing any doubt about him potentially being out of the league, which is where he was projected to be in a few years judging from his stint with the Celtics.

While Nesmith did have a fantastic night and stood above the rest, that is not to say he carried the scoring load. In addition to Nesmith’s 26 points, Myles Turner had 20 points and 12 rebounds, showing great consistency on the boards and proving that the previous year was not an outlier.

Jalen Smith and Bennedict Mathurin also contributed 13 points each, and Buddy Hield chipped in 10 of his own. Tyrese Haliburton was second in scoring on the night with 21 points. All in all, the Pacers ended up with six players in double figures and three players scoring 20+ points.

You may also notice that three of these players came off the bench, and that is because Indiana’s bench really carried the scoring load on the night. At the end of the night, the bench scored 61 of Indiana’s 125 points and also dished out 19 assists for a whopping +/- of +83. Once again, if you haven’t figured out that this team is immensely deep, here is another sign.

While these scoring performances from the bench were great, there was only one man Indiana turned to when it came time to put the game away.