Pacers Report Cards: Grading every Pacers player's second-round performance

How did every Indiana Pacer perform in the team's second-round series win against New York?
Indiana Pacers v New York Knicks - Game Seven
Indiana Pacers v New York Knicks - Game Seven / Elsa/GettyImages
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Aaron Nesmith

Stats: 7 Games, 30.7 MPG, 10.1 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 2 APG, 0.4 SPG, 0.1 BPG, 1.1 TOV, 3.9 FPG 52/29.2/92.3 Splits on 63.7% TS

Going into the series, Aaron Nesmith was expected to be Indiana's greatest defensive asset, as he could defend almost any wing player with his long arms and physicality. Unfortunately, it took the Pacers two whole games to realize that he would be the best option against Jalen Brunson, by which point it was almost too late.

Nesmith's first two games were essentially wasted guarding other players, which wasn't helped by his subpar offensive output as well, as his shooting regressed even more to the point where he could not buy a three-pointer. In Games 3 and 4, however, he was arguably Indiana's most valuable asset, as his placement on Jalen Brunson was exactly what Indiana needed to get back in the series. However, Nesmith's deep ball still showed little to no signs of improving, as four games into the series, he was only shooting 4/15 and shot 0/4 in Game 4 alone.

The first half of Nesmith's Game 5 was wasted not guarding Brunson, as he did not fare well in the offensive portion either, only scoring eight points on 2/7 from the field and 1/3 from deep. However, his fantastic defensive effort on Brunson gave Rick Carlisle the assurance he needed to continue with the Nesmith on Brunson matchup for the rest of the series.

Sure enough, Nesmith worked his magic in the following two games. While he wasn't the best offensively in Game 6, only scoring eight points on 4/8 shooting and 0/4 from deep, his defense played a huge role in Brunson having his worst playoff half of the season. After Game 6, it was only a matter of time until Nesmith got a good shooting playoff game under his belt, and it came at just the right time.

Similar to his Game 6 performance against Milwaukee, Nesmith saved his best for last, scoring 19 points on a perfect 8/8 from the field and 2/2 from deep while making no sacrifices on the defensive end. Nesmith still played tight defense on Brunson and kept the superstar at bay, playing his trademark physical defense to throw him off his game.

This combination of Brunson being rattled by Nesmith's defense and Nesmith's own shooting returning in the final game played a big part in Indiana getting the blowout victory and Nesmith further proving how much of a steal his 3-year, $33 million extension was.

Now, Nesmith faces his old team in the Boston Celtics, the same team that traded him in 2022. Time will tell if Nesmith can have a fantastic revenge series against his old team and show them the mistake they made in trading him early.

Final Grade: B+ (Defensive anchor through the series, shooting was iffy but it returned)