The Pacers Are Now A Certified Playoff Team
How many people, including Indiana Pacers fans, came into this season with ground-breaking expectations? Probably not many. However, everything flipped on its head when Tyrese Haliburton began to explode on the scene; this team started to gel and produce more, and now they added Pascal Siakam.
Indiana is the clear winner of the Siakam trade. The Toronto Raptors are in it for the long run, but that’s okay. It is to be expected when a franchise trades two cornerstone pieces to hit the reset button.
While that may be true for Toronto, it is not for Chad Buchanan’s team—quite the contrary. Not only did they acquire superstar talent, they didn’t need to kill their depth to make their aspirations come true. In short, this makes them a legit playoff contender.
How does it, though? In this article, I will be going through why they are now a certified playoff team and how explosive they will be in the current and future.
Wait… what were the trade details again?
- Bruce Brown Jr.
- Jordan Nwora
- Kira Lewis Jr. (Pelicans)
- 3 1st-round picks
- Pascal Siakam
- 2nd-round pick (Pelicans)
New Orleans was involved in this deal, but it is unclear what they received for giving up Lewis Jr. and a pick; I suspect a pick and/or a bench player. However, something has yet to come to light.
Toronto now gets to have depth upgrades for their backcourt. Their backcourt was very limited and lacking in the number of players they had, which makes sense why they pulled the trigger on this trade. Also, it helps by giving them multiple coveted picks for their rebuild.
This trade makes sense for Indiana because they can now pair Siakam and Haliburton together, making them a top duo in this basketball association. It can be believed they’ll be able to take on the likes of Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray.
For different purposes, this is a win-win for both sides. One team didn’t “dominate” the other in the traditional perspective of when trades occur. Each side has a different goal in mind, whether long-term or short-term; really, it’s that simple.
What’s this team’s new starting five with their bench looking like?
- Tyrese Haliburton
- Buddy Hield
- Aaron Nesmith
- Pascal Siakam
- Myles Turner
Beyond the starting lineup, Indiana has excellent developing names sitting on their bench for years to come. Some are even blossoming in real time to help them win games.
Jarace Walker and Bennedict Mathurin are the two names to watch; why? With his latest performance, Walker has shown glimpses of potential, displaying a solid 15 points in 20 minutes. The same goes with Mathurin, averaging 14 points this season and has already dropped multiple 20-point performances.
These two former lottery-pick players will be terrific for the Pacers next year and in the following years. I’m not saying they are doing a lousy job now; they are doing a fantastic job and filling the bench, but when they continue to develop correctly, they’ll be an issue for opposing teams.
Also, whether Hield is traded this season or not, when he is gone, and Mathurin is their new starting shooting guard, he will be fun to watch. A backcourt of Haliburton and Mathurin will be a favorable decision.
Walker could even replace Nesmith when he shows his full potential, but I will speak less about this area now. Let’s direction our attention over to their over bench players.
Jalen Smith, Obi Toppin, and T.J. McConnell are good pieces for Indiana. They have proven themselves worthy of being on their bench and commanding good minutes, making Rick Carlisle’s life much easier.
This unit’s offensive and defensive flow and strengths are unique and should be noticed. Please note that this still needs to include Siakam’s firepower; I’ll discuss him later.
Are the Pacers now on the league’s map or not yet?
The Pacers weren’t on the radar of opposing teams, general fans, or even the media before the season began. The simplistic fact I can give, but their perception of who they were and how “legit” they were did change after the In-Season Tournament. While they did still lose, it was still incredible and eye-opening due to everyone writing them off against teams like the Milwaukee Bucks and losing every game they were put in.
Before the tournament, they were nobodies; now, after the tournament, they are somebodies. It got people’s attention when Haliburton started breaking out, having incredible 20/20 games, and seeing him be like a mini Jason Kidd or Steve Nash. This team single-handedly started a vicious rivalry against the Bucks and beat them convincingly. Isn’t that something?
They’ve gained more respect from the fans, media, and others involved in the NBA. Thanks to Haliburton for making their “burst” happen, as he was the biggest underdog. In what way? Well, people considered him a fluke All-Star and not all that impressive, so he had to correct them and go into a mode not many 23-year-olds can.
Once Haliburton was finally receiving respect, the rest of the roster began to receive their flowers. While they will not be favored heavily or talked about constantly, they are no longer a push-over team perceived with no value.
Add Pascal Siakam, who wants to play with Indiana, into this group; now, this team’s media buzz and fan’s fantasies will rapidly grow.
How will Siakam help the Pacers?
Pascal Siakam’s skill set is very well known, and there is a reason why he is known as an elite two-way player. His versatility allows him to draw double-teams so that his teammates can score easy buckets, plus he has grown over the years as a good playmaker. He’ll find the open man and get those assists.
His athleticism allows him to bully his opponents in the paint, both offensively and defensively, with him having pretty nice post skills. To say the least, Siakam is beyond being just a one-sided ball player. He can rip a team apart defensively or take a game over offensively.
Add all this to a growing, talented Pacers team, and magic will happen. Isolate Haliburton and Siakam; that type of partnership will be crazy to try to stop. Haliburton has been an increasingly dangerous threat since his final season with the Sacramento Kings.
The 23-year-old is now averaging 23.6 points, 12.5 assists, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.1 steals per game. In addition to those great statistics, he is shooting almost 50% from the field. Tell me how and why this duo couldn’t work and be better than most of the duos out there today. It’s simply not possible to have a counter argument. Especially when both players are very unselfish and put the team first beyond themselves.
At the beginning of the season, CourtSideHeat predicted this team would win 43 games. Now, there is a real possibility of them winning at least 50 games. This is factoring in Siakam, how much Haliburton has exploded onto the scene, and what this team has been developing into.
Remember, there are only five defenders on the court
If you try to double-team Siakam or Haliburton at any point during the game, guess what? That team is giving up an easy bucket. A team can’t extra cover Siakam due to the abilities Haliburton has, and vice versa with Siakam when Haliburton is being extra covered.
Since Indiana has good spot-up and catch-and-shoot players, it will give them even more of an advantage to pass the ball more and force teams to start double-teaming their key players. Because of this new addition, players like McConnell and Hield get more looks to shoot the ball.
Overall, the entire team will get more looks, and while it sounds simplistic and fundamental, that’s how the game of basketball works. Carlisle will draw it up to expose teams on a nightly basis.
Man-to-man coverage isn’t going to work for a lot of teams due to the different disadvantages they have, so Indiana is going to attack this and make them leave a man wide open. Teams will constantly evaluate an opposing team on who their main guys are and how many plays they receive, then look at all these different angles to break them down.
Typically, teams rank their opponent’s players from best to worst and draw up a game plan. Indiana can use this to their advantage and become a disruptor to create gainful situations. Basketball doesn’t have to be complex when you have multiple star players and a developing, fully loaded supporting cast. It’s a dangerous game.
Conclusion: Why the Pacers are now a certified playoff team
This team has the makeup to be dangerous when the playoffs arrive; they have the pieces, and now all they have to do is go out and execute.
Are the Indiana Pacers done making trades? Maybe, but they’ll continue looking around to see who is on the block and their most significant need.
Indiana will be a fun team to watch when they are fully healthy (Haliburton is out due to a hamstring strain); the debut game of Pascal Siakam will be electrifying. It’ll be the same, if not even more, for when Haliburton and Siakam play together.
Don’t sleep on this franchise; they are locked and ready to unload. This team has the pieces: their cornerstone player is here, another superstar player is here, developing players are here, and the bench is coming together as one unit. The front office prioritized their starting five and their supporting cast. This is what separates them from the pack.