1 positive, 2 negatives from Indiana Pacers blowout loss to Boston Celtics

Indiana Pacers, Boston Celtics
Indiana Pacers, Boston Celtics /
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Indiana Pacers, Boston Celtics, Jarace Walker
Indiana Pacers, Boston Celtics, Jarace Walker /

Positive: Jarace Walker shows promise in limited minutes

It finally happened, folks. After three games and two DNPs, Jarace Walker has finally scored his first points in an Indiana Pacers uniform.

This was just one of Walker’s four buckets in the game, showcasing his versatility and NBA readiness in his first extended period of playing time in his NBA career.

Rick Carlisle’s usage of the youngster has been puzzling so far, to say the least. Following six garbage time minutes in the season opener against Washington, where he logged zero points and didn’t do much of note, both Walker and fellow rookie Ben Sheppard did not see any action in the following two games against Cleveland and Chicago.

It was an odd choice considering the team probably needed Walker’s defensive ability and hustle, especially in the closing stages of the Chicago game, where it seemed like every Pacer just gave up on defense and stopped trying.

In only 12 minutes on the floor, all in the fourth quarter, Walker put up a decent statline of eight points (4/6 FG, 0-1 3PT), two rebounds, three assists, and one block, pretty good numbers for a guy who was logging DNPs beforehand.

Walker looked pretty good getting these buckets, too, as he displayed some of the offensive talent that led to Indiana trading for him on draft night.

His play created questions among Pacers fans, myself included. If he is this good in this limited amount of time, why is Rick Carlisle so hesitant to play him? Walker is clearly NBA-ready with his skills and body and would provide an instant spark to this team.

That is part of the reason why Indiana even traded for him instead of keeping more of a project like Bilal Coulibaly. Walker has the tools to compete right away, but it seems like Rick Carlisle is unaware of that, or he is aware but still keeps him on the bench.

Wing and perimeter defense has been a major concern with the Pacers so far into the season, an issue that was also seen tonight, as the Pacers allowed 30 points from Jayson Tatum and 18 from Derrick White en route to the Celtics shooting a scorching hot 20/35 from deep, a 57.1% clip.

Despite this, it took Rick Carlisle until the fourth quarter, with Indiana already down 38 points, to give Walker some playing time, a decision which baffled Pacers fans, as it seemed that Carlisle was willingly keeping Walker on the bench despite it not being the right call in any way, shape, or form.

While Carlisle certainly has a reputation for not playing rookies enough minutes unless they are can’t-miss prospects, I cannot understand trading down for a draft pick only to barely play that draft pick at all and keep him out of the rotation unless drastic measures are needed.

After all, Walker only played the fourth quarter tonight and most likely would have logged a third straight DNP had Jalen Smith been active to take the backup center minutes.

While it is still early in the season, Carlisle needs to realize what he has on his hands with Jarace Walker and start playing him more minutes. It is almost unheard of for a 20-year-old to be drafted with the eighth pick, go to a young team, and barely get minutes.

Walker has tons of talent that is often being wasted on the bench when Indiana could definitely use him out there helping on defense next to Myles Turner or helping create scoring opportunities next to Tyrese Haliburton and Bennedict Mathurin.

Speaking of rookies, Ben Sheppard also played the entire 4th quarter (and a bit more) and got his first points of his NBA career, in front of his family no less, one of the high points of an otherwise pitiful night of Pacers basketball.