The Indiana Pacers' starting point guard, Tyrese Haliburton, went down with a hamstring injury in the January 8 game at home against the Boston Celtics. However, the Pacers were able to subsidize the loss of their floor general against a pair of Eastern Conference basement-dwellers, the Washington Wizards and Atlanta hawks, winning the next two games.
Despite two victories, the Pacers have struggled to score as mightily as they have before. Indiana has only averaged 113 points a game in their last four. That is more than 12 points lower than their season average.
The two players taking over the majority of the minutes at point guard are Andrew Nembhard and TJ McConnell. Nembhard has been starting with the veteran McConnell coming off the bench still (but McConnell started on Thursday with Nembhard out).
Not one Pacers player has scored 20 points or more in the last four games without Haliburton (prior to their game against the Sacramento Kings on Thursday night). Their team totals for assists have only slightly dipped without him, too.
In the game against Washington, Nembhard made just one field goal out of his eight attempts. He finished with two points, two rebounds and five assists.
McConnell performed better as he went seven of ten for 14 points and added eight assists. He would only score six points on the road against Atlanta but recorded 14 assists.
Nembhard was not much better having ten points, six assists. He made both of his 3-point attempts vs. the Hawks.
In the next two games on the road against Western Conference opponents, Nembhard would score double digits against Denver and Utah, respectively. The starting point guard shot nine of eighteen combined in those two contests.
McConnell has struggled to score in his last two games. He has 13 total points vs. Denver and the Jazz on five of fifteen shooting. McConnell has not provided the needed spark behind the arc the Pacers could use either.
Indiana played the Kings on Thursday, and while McConnell's scoring numbers saw a boost (25 points), he still doesn't provide the same three-point threat at Haliburton. (Or any three-point threat, for that matter.)
Possibly starting McConnell over Nembhard may invigorate a struggling Pacers offense. Though Haliburton should be back in 7-10 days, Indiana must find an answer internally.
Or perhaps they finally move Buddy Hield and either Nembhard or McConnell in a trade package for an upgrade at the backup point guard spot. Either way, the Pacers must find ways to score and win if they want to remain in the upper tier of the Eastern Conference standings.