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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3. Tyrese Haliburton

It's obvious that Tyrese Haliburton is the key to everything. He's the best player on this team and the engine that runs the offense. He's one of two people in the starting lineup who can create his own shot, which is something he needs to do more often.

Haliburton is struggling right now. He hasn't scored more than 20 points in any of the last five games. He's also been held under 10 assists in three of the last four. Teams are starting to switch everything on high-ball screens and forcing Haliburton to do something against a big. He's been afraid to drive against them.

If Haliburton isn't an effective scorer, he can't be an effective passer. Teams are going to start pressing him near the three-point line and force him to try and blow by them. Since his injury, it's not something he's been willing to do very often.

Haliburton has to be scoring at least 20 points every game. If he's doing that, he'll also be at 10+ assists every night. He's different than most players in that he's a past-first guy. His passing opens up more opportunities to score because defenses are so scared he's going to dish to someone else.

Perhaps more inverted pick-and-rolls with Siakam will unlock some scoring opportunities with him. They haven't run stack as much without Hield either. Maybe they need to do that with Nesmith because he's now the best three-point shooter on the team. Something needs to change to get Haliburton going.

If these three guys can play well in the final 20 games, the Pacers will be a top-six seed in the NBA Playoffs. If they don't, they might be a candidate to lose in the play-in game.