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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3. Jalen Smith

Smith is the Pacers' primary backup center behind Myles Turner. Over his last 11 games, the 6’10 big man averages 9.0 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 0.5 blocks in 16.7 minutes each night. Smith was a surprise top-ten draft pick by the Suns in 2020 before being traded to the Pacers for Torrey Craig in 2022.

He has passed Isaiah Jackson in the rotation, but there is no guarantee it will stay that way in the playoffs. Smith has been outstanding this season. The Pacers have a 134 offensive rating with him on the floor, and he would rank 21st in the NBA in win shares per 48 minutes if he had played enough to qualify.

The 24-year-old is not a star and head coach Rick Carlisle will play the matchups in the playoffs. If Smith is struggling in any way, he could be replaced by Jackson or Carlisle could change things up entirely. The Pacers will try multiple looks and hope to find something that works against the opponent.

The Pacers have several interchangeable pieces on their roster. Smith has outplayed Jackson this season, but it may flip in the playoffs. Indiana will be ready, but Tyrese Haliburton may struggle in his first run. The Pacers will need all the help they can get, and it could mean dropping an undersized point guard and their backup center from the rotation.