The Pacers should give Jarace Walker some playing time in Game 4

With all hope lost in the Conference Finals, the Indiana Pacers should cut their losses and play little-used lottery pick Jarace Walker.
Indiana Pacers v Boston Celtics - Game Two
Indiana Pacers v Boston Celtics - Game Two / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages

Let's get one thing straight. The Indiana Pacers are not making the NBA Finals. Barring some bizarre miracle, the Pacers, despite giving a valiant effort in Games 1 and 3 and only losing due to poor late-game execution, find themselves staring down an obstacle that no NBA team has overcome in the history of the league.

Since the NBA Playoffs began, around 150 teams have faced a 3-0 series deficit in a seven-game series. Of those teams, only 16 have won at least two games while four have won three straight to force a Game 7 to make history, as recently as the 2023 Boston Celtics last year.

However, no team has overcome a 3-0 series deficit yet, and the Pacers will most likely not be that team. Given that they have already blown two winnable games in the series, and will most likely be without Tyrese Haliburton, their star player, Game 3 was probably curtains for the Pacers' season as a whole.

With the idea established that the season is over, now is a good time for Indiana to pull out their secret weapon and gauge his skills on the big stage. Jarace Walker has barely played in the regular season and playoffs. In his rookie season, Walker only played 33 games and a total of 340 minutes, while in the playoffs, he only played 31 minutes over nine games, all blowouts.

The alleged mishandling of Walker's minutes has been a big topic amongst Pacers fans, with some saying that Indiana's 8th Overall Pick just a year ago should have been given more time to grow in the rotation and perhaps would have been ready for the playoffs by now. In contrast, others say that a 20-year-old raw prospect was not fit to get big minutes on a bonafide playoff team, which the Pacers are this year.

Sure enough, Walker has shown both sides of the coin during his limited playing time. He has had flashes of brilliance, like his career-high 15 points in a win over Sacramento and a few nights later against Phoenix, where he showed good shot-creation, playmaking, and point-of-attack defense. However, he has also had his fair share of rookie mistakes, which is to be expected since he is only 20 years old and coming off one season of college.

This is the perfect time to give Walker some minutes. The series is basically over, Indiana will not come back and the best they can do is postpone their inevitable demise for a few more days with a win in Game 4 on Monday, as hard as they may be.

Either way, they are probably not winning this series. Jarace Walker has not played much at all in the regular season and playoffs, and he has the tools to be the secondary playmaker and defender that the Pacers need out there. With Tyrese Haliburton most likely out for the series, and the duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown torching Indiana in Game 4, there is no reason why Walker shouldn't be given a shot out there to see what he can do.

Worst comes to worst, Indiana loses Game 4 and gets swept, which is most likely happening anyway. However, there is still an opportunity to get a good look at Walker's skills as well as how he performs on the big stage. I am not saying to give him a starting role and 30 minutes of playing time.


Rather, maybe 20 or so minutes off the bench would be good for some defense and hustle, two things the Pacers have lacked quite a bit this series. Walker almost certainly isn't the answer to all of Indiana's problems right now, but at this point, it's not the worst idea in the world.