Pacers Report Cards: Grading every Pacers player's Conference Finals performance

How did every Indiana Pacer perform in the team's Conference Finals loss against Boston?
Boston Celtics v Indiana Pacers - Game Four
Boston Celtics v Indiana Pacers - Game Four / Dylan Buell/GettyImages
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Aaron Nesmith

Stats: 4 Games, 33.6 MPG, 10.3 PPG, 5 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1 SPG, 2 TOV, 4 FPG 44.1/18.8/88.9 Splits on 54% TS

Going up against the team that gave up on him two years prior, Aaron Nesmith entered the series with a point to prove. After getting over his shooting woes in Game 7 of the Knicks series in addition to guarding Jalen Brunson for two games, Nesmith moved on to an even tougher assignment.

Being Indiana's best defender, Nesmith was given the task of slowing down Jayson Tatum. This is a tough ask for anyone, but Nesmith's physicality on the defensive end and determination not to give up on any play made him the best man for the job on the Pacers.

At some points, it worked like a charm, like in Game 2, where Tatum was held to 23 points on 9/20 shooting. However, on other nights, Nesmith could not do anything to slow down Tatum, like when he scored 36 points on 12/23 shooting the following game.

Part of this was not entirely Nesmith's fault. Standing at 6-foot-6, Nesmith simply does not have the physical tools to guard most big wing scorers, such as Tatum. Just because he was Indiana's best option against Tatum does not mean he was a great option.

This reflected in the series, as Nesmith fouled out in Game 1 and accumulated nine fouls in the next two games. Nesmith's four fouls per game average was by far the most from any Indiana player. Part of this was due to the height and length difference, and some was due to his nature as a defender.

Aaron Nesmith is a physical defender, which he proved in the Celtics series. It has gotten him called out by opposing fans for playing 'dirty,' but he just has a reckless style of play. At times, it helps the team and wears out his defensive matchups, but sometimes, like in the Celtics series, it leads to the fouls racking up.

Additionally, Nesmith's shooting struggles returned in the Boston series. Never really the same shooter after suffering shin splits prior to the All-Star Break, Nesmith only shot 3/16 from deep in the Boston series which added up to 18.8%, even lower than his 30.8% in the Milwaukee series and 29.2% in the New York series. The offseason is perhaps exactly what Nesmith needs to get his jumper back, as some rest for his shins to heal will do him well next season.

Nesmith was dealt a tough matchup this series and did everything he could to give his team a chance to win. His defense on Tatum was as good as he could give, and although he didn't slow down Tatum, he still made life hard for him on the offensive end and made him work for all of his buckets.

Final Grade: B- (Poor shooting, too aggressive on defense, but still defended well and hustled)