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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Ben Sheppard

Stats: 4 Games, 21.8 MPG, 3 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 1 APG, 0.5 SPG, 0.8 TOV, 3 FPG 27.8/8.3/100 Splits on 32.5% TS

Let's get one thing straight. Asking a rookie with less than 75 games under their belt to start in a playoff series against the best team in the NBA is a very tall task. For Ben Sheppard, it was clear that he was well over his head for the majority of the series.

In the first two series, Sheppard established himself as a 3-and-D threat for a long time, averaging around six points in the first 13 games on around 47% from deep through 13 playoff games. It was Sheppard's emergence that made Indiana quickly forget about the departure of Buddy Hield, and it was Sheppard's defense that helped keep Jalen Brunson at bay in the final stretches of the Knicks series. That being said, going from Jalen Brunson in New York to Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown in Boston is a very big ask for a 22-year-old getting his first taste of playoff action.

In the Boston series, Sheppard's shot seemed to vanish, as he went from flirting with a 50% three-point percentage to missing his first nine attempts in the first three games. Even Sheppard's seven points on 3/6 shooting in Game 2 came in the fourth quarter, which was when Rick Carlisle sat out the starters, more on that later.

Speaking of starters, Sheppard was thrust into the starting shooting guard role in the final two games of the series after Tyrese Haliburton had to sit out. With Andrew Nembhard moving up to point guard, it was now Sheppard's job to keep players such as Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown at bay consistently.

How did this experiment go? About as well as you would think sliding a rookie into the starting lineup against the league's best team would go. Although Sheppard played admirable defense and forced Tatum and Brown into some tough shots, he could not do much to slow them down.

His effort was admirable, but it was clear that he was not at that point in his career yet. As for his shooting, the less said about that, the better. Sheppard went scoreless in Game 3 despite recording a playoff career-high in minutes and his fourth-most minutes of any game including the regular season. It took until Game 4 for Sheppard to make his first three-pointer of the series which came in the second quarter.

All in all, this was a series that Sheppard would like to forget going forward. However, this is not too much of a knock on him. For a rookie playing starter-level minutes against the best team in the league on the second-biggest stage in the NBA, Sheppard performed admirably, but it is clear that he still needs some work. Hell of a start though.

Final Grade: C (Solid defense, but shooting fell off hard, and I mean HARD)