What the young Pacers can learn from this playoff run

The young Pacers showed their youth in the Conference Finals against the Celtics, but there's always room for improvement.
Boston Celtics v Indiana Pacers - Game Four
Boston Celtics v Indiana Pacers - Game Four / Justin Casterline/GettyImages

The Indiana Pacers' season is over. After three blown leads and one blowout at the hands of Boston, the Indiana Pacers have lost four straight games in the Eastern Conference Finals to get swept by the Celtics and end their season on a rather low note.

The series wasn't supposed to end like this, in all honesty. The Pacers should be up 3-1 and ready to close the series out in Boston, but a mix of blown leads, poor coaching down the stretch, and awful defense has led them to the point of no return. In the end, what should have been a commanding series lead has turned into just a 'good effort' and a 'scare' of the Celtics.

Once again, a bunch of reasons can be factored in for this. The Pacers didn't defend well, they didn't rebound well, they didn't score in crunch time, and the coaching was bad, all of these have some truth to them. However, it is important to remember just how young this team is and that young players make mistakes.

Out of all the playoff teams in the NBA to get past the second round this year, the Pacers are the second-youngest, only behind the Oklahoma City Thunder in terms of use. Looking at their top 11 players going into the offseason returns an average age of 24.45 years old, which speaks for itself.

Of the nine players to play over 10 minutes per game in the playoffs for Indiana, all of them except for Pascal Siakam and T.J. McConnell are under 29 years old and those players return an average age of 25.2 years old.

Additionally, of these nine players to get playoff minutes, only Pascal Siakam, T.J. McConnell, Myles Turner, and Obi Toppin had played meaningful playoff minutes prior to this, with Aaron Nesmith only playing during garbage time with Boston prior to joining the Pacers. That leaves Nesmith, Tyrese Haliburton, Andrew Nembhard, Ben Sheppard, and Isaiah Jackson as players who got their first taste of meaningful playoff basketball in the 2024 playoffs.

Of course, with inexperience comes obvious issues, and, as good as those players were for Indiana in these playoffs, they certainly had their fair share of issues, especially when it came to late-game execution, which we saw in the Boston series and the first two games of the New York series.

Plain and simple, the Pacers did not know how to keep a lead in the 2024 playoffs. Even some of the games they won involved blowing leads that almost cost them the game. Take for example Game 3 vs Milwaukee where they let the Bucks come back from 18 down to force overtime, or Game 3 vs New York, where they already blew a lead to the Knicks and had to rely on an Andrew Nembhard miracle three-pointer to win the game.

If you want to talk about moments where lack of experience showed, you don't have to look much further than the Celtics series. Outside of Game 2, which was a Boston blowout, all of the games in the series were basically handed to Indiana on a silver platter only for the Pacers to play with their food long enough for Boston to snatch it right in front of them. Saying the Pacers should be up 3-1 is not just a delusion from a fanbase, it is the truth.

However, this is not the end of the world for them, far from it. As said earlier, young teams make mistakes. The Pacers are a young team that is far ahead of schedule, and they will most certainly learn from this playoff run, especially these last four losses to Boston.

Next. Next story. 3 Pacers who definitely won't be back next season. dark

Players like Andrew Nembhard, Aaron Nesmith, Isaiah Jackson, and Tyrese Haliburton have shown that they can deliver when their number is called upon. With 17 games of playoff basketball under their belt and a full offseason to let their experience settle in, Indiana will be back next season better than ever and hopefully not keen to play with their food as much. This Pacers team is just getting started.