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
4 of 5

2. T.J. McConnell

The 31-year-old point guard is playing arguably the best basketball of his NBA career over the last 13 games where he averages 12.9 points, 4.6 assists, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.5 steals in 19.6 minutes per game. McConnell has been a bucket, but trusting him in a playoff series is a different ballgame.

His team qualified for the postseason in three straight years from 2018 to 2020. Each time, McConnell played fewer minutes in the playoffs. In 2019 and 2020, he fell out of the rotation entirely before the end of his team’s run.

McConnell is undersized at 6’1, and teams hunt matchups viciously in the playoffs. He will be involved in every pick and roll and teams will attempt to exploit his defense. If McConnell becomes a liability in a series, coach Carlisle will glue him to the bench. What option does he have? The Pacers have two stars and believe they can win in the playoffs. They won’t let playing T.J. McConnell stand in the way of making a run.

Minutes and roles are rarely assured for non-star players in the playoffs, especially undersized backup point guards. Carlisle will play Tyrese Haliburton all 48 if it is the difference between winning or losing a series.