5 Pacers who could get axed from Rick Carlisle’s playoff rotation

These Pacers could be glued to the bench in the playoffs.

Indiana Pacers, Rick Carlisle
Indiana Pacers, Rick Carlisle / Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports
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4. Ben Sheppard

The Pacers are light on trusted wings after trading away Bruce Brown and Buddy Hield. Benedict Mathurin’s season-ending shoulder injury only made them weaker. Indiana is relying heavily on Aaron Nesmith and Andrew Nembhard in the starting lineup with Ben Sheppard as a backup.

The 22-year-old rookie was the 26th pick in the 2023 draft. He barely saw the floor to begin the season, but has appeared in seven straight where he averages 19.1 minutes per game. Since Jan. 15, Sheppard has played in 27 of the team’s 30 contests and is on the court for 16.8 minutes each night. He is in the rotation but may not stick in the playoffs.

Head coach Rick Carlisle has a reputation for not trusting rookies, which may not be totally fair, but Sheppard was playing at Belmont College last season. The Pacers want to win in the playoffs and could cut his minutes to give more run to their other bench options. It may mean going small or big, but Carlisle is never afraid to experiment.

The Indiana Pacers will go seven or eight deep in their playoff rotation. They have five locked in, but the other players may change on a nightly basis. Carlisle will try things, especially early in the series. Ben Sheppard will get a shot but could be out of the rotation completely if things do not go well for the Pacers.