The 3 most important players for the Indiana Pacers for the rest of the season

If the Indiana Pacers are going to make the playoffs, these three players have to be great down the stretch of the regular season.

Feb 12, 2024; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA;  Indiana Pacers forward Aaron Nesmith (23) dunks
Feb 12, 2024; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Aaron Nesmith (23) dunks / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
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Perhaps the most confounding team in the NBA is the Indiana Pacers. The Pacers have played great at times. They've beaten the Bucks four times this season. They are also the only team to beat Boston multiple times this year. Quite frankly, the Pacers have shown they can beat anyone in the league.

They've also shown they can lose to anyone in the league. They have losses to the Spurs, Bulls, and multiple losses to the Hornets. Those are some of the worst teams in the league. Since the All-Star break, the Pacers are 3-3 and have lost three of their last four games.

Indiana currently sits at 8th in the Eastern Conference. Even so, they are just 2.5 games behind the Knicks for the fourth spot. Not only do the Pacers have a shot to get out of the play-in game, but they have a chance to have homecourt advantage in the playoffs.

If they are going to do that, they have to have three players play well down the stretch of the season. These are the three most important players for them as we head into the final 20 games of the year. The first one is someone who is just coming back from injury.

1. Aaron Nesmith

When the Pacers traded Malcolm Brogdon for the Celtics, I thought they didn't get enough for him. Aaron Nesmith is the only piece from that trade that is still on the Pacers. He has been a fantastic addition for them and I was dead wrong about the impact he can make.

Nesmith is the best wing defender the Pacers have on their roster. He takes on the toughest defensive assignment every night. Nesmith has had to guard Giannis, Kevin Durant, and Jayson Tatum. All are elite players in this league and can drop 40 on any given night.

Nesmith has been better than expected on the offensive side of the ball this year too. He's a top-five three-point shooter in the NBA, making 44.7% of his shots from beyond the arc on 4.6 attempts per game. He's an extremely important guy to have open on the perimeter to pair with an elite passer like Tyrese Haliburton.

In order for the Pacers to get back on track, Nesmith has to get his rhythm back. It was pretty much three weeks from when he got hurt and when he came back. His first two games weren't super encouraging. I expect him to get back to normal soon though.

The next player on this list is one of the starters in the backcourt.