The Indiana Pacers need to shorten their playoff rotation

The Pacers had a really good bench during the regular season. But now it's the postseason and the rotation needs to shorten.
Apr 21, 2024; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Damian Lillard (0) drives for the
Apr 21, 2024; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Damian Lillard (0) drives for the / Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The Indiana Pacers had about as bad of a Game 1 as possible in Milwaukee. They allowed Damian Lillard to have 35 points in the first half of the game. That was too much to overcome as the Pacers fell by 15 points as the game was never close in the fourth quarter.

This was the first playoff game for a lot of the Pacers in this game. It looked like it. A lot of the guys looked passive and afraid of the moment, including Tyrese Haliburton. One of the biggest issues was the bench play, which has been stellar for this team all year long.

It looked like the bench wasn't ready to play either. They were a combined 8-27 from the field. That's just 29%. They also went six-deep into the bench unit. That is too many guys to play in a playoff series, especially in one against a team as good as the Bucks.

The Indiana Pacers need to cut certain players out of the rotation

11 players are too many guys to be getting action during a playoff game. There also should never be a time when both Tyrese Haliburton and Pascal Siakam are off the floor. A few guys who played in Game 1 should not be playing in Game 2 and maybe the rest of the series.

Doug McDermott has shown no value to the Pacers since being traded to them. He played seven minutes on Sunday night and didn't take a single shot. He did get beaten defensively though and left Dame wide open for a three in the first half. If he's not going to shoot, why is he out there?

Isaiah Jackson should only play unless Jalen Smith is injured. Smith was bad in the first half but played a lot better in the second half. Smith's three-point shooting adds an element to the bench that Jackson doesn't give them. While he plays hard, he's not right for this matchup.

If Ben Sheppard can't hit wide-open shots, he can't be out there either. He had three wide-open three-point shots that he missed that could have helped bring the Pacers back into the game. He was just 1-5 in his playoff debut. The lights might be too bright for the rookie.


The Pacers have to win this game with Giannis likely out again. The rotation needs to be at eight, maybe nine guys moving forward. Rick Carlisle needs to recognize that.