Negative: The Pacers are lost without Tyrese Haliburton
This should go without saying, but Tyrese Haliburton is the undisputed heart and soul of this Indiana Pacers team and probably the majority of the rest of its organs, too.
I discussed this last season when I compared 10 games with Haliburton to 10 games after his injury, but it has to be stated again: Tyrese Haliburton is the Indiana Pacers, plain and simple.
Prior to this game, the Indiana Pacers had close games with the Celtics four out of the last five times they played. Tyrese Haliburton was a big part of those matchups, usually being the engine that carried the Pacers to victory or brought them close to it.
Without Haliburton, the Pacers are a shell of what they can be, and while Andrew Nembhard and TJ McConnell aren’t bad players, they cannot do what Haliburton does out there on a nightly basis, with all due respect.
This is why I believe Haliburton has a strong case for the best point guard in the East. He may very well be the most valuable one to his team and, more often than not, shows up in the big moments when things get rough. If this loss to Indiana has taught anything, it’s that this Pacers team goes as far as Tyrese Haliburton can take them, and that may be a problem going forward.
While there is no problem with relying on your star player when things get rough, it does become concerning when that player is the only one you can rely on with nobody else stepping up.
While TJ McConnell did his best Haliburton impersonation tonight, leading the team with 18 points on 8/13 shooting while dishing out five assists and pulling down seven rebounds, it was not enough, as the Celtics mopped the floor with the Pacers regardless.
With a devastating loss like this, it is hard to tell whether things would be different with just one player back in the lineup, but with a guy like Tyrese Haliburton, who brings so much to the team, you just never know.