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Uncovering the Pacers’ Achilles’ Heel: The Fatal Flaw that Spells Doom in the 2024 NBA Playoffs

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Despite a 47-win season and a deep lineup, the Pacers are poised for an early playoff exit due to Tyrese Haliburton’s injury concerns.

Despite a long history of success (albeit, without an NBA title), the Indiana Pacers are in search of their first playoff series victory since the 2013-14 season. That year, a squad composed of Paul George, George Hill, and Roy Hibbert reached the Eastern Conference Finals before losing to the Miami Heat.

Since then, Indiana has lost five First Round series and has not made the postseason since the bubble season in 2019-20. This year, the Pacers returned to the playoffs on the back of a 47-win season. Led by long-time center Myles Turner, breakout star Tyrese Haliburton, and new acquisition Pascal Siakiam, Indiana looked poised to end that postseason win drought.

But with Tyrese Haliburton still not at 100% after a midseason injury, the Pacers’ dreams of postseason success could die before they even gain momentum. Why Haliburton’s bad hamstring will doom them in the 2024 NBA Playoffs.

Tyrese Haliburton is not at full health

During the first half of the season, Pacers point guard Tyrese Haliburton played like an MVP candidate. The fourth-year player averaged 23.6 points per game and 12.5 assists per game while shooting 40.3% from three and 49.7% from the field. His offensive rating during this stretch was an impressive 135 points per 100 possessions.

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But then in a January 8 game against the Boston Celtics, Haliburton went down with a left leg injury that required his teammates to carry him off the floor. The injury, diagnosed as a grade 1 left hamstring strain, kept him out for 10 of the team’s next games. Yet since returning, the Iowa State product has not been as productive for Indiana.

Haliburton’s scoring is down to 16.8 PPG with 9.3 APG and a field goal percentage of 45.5%. His overall offensive rating is down to 121, a 14-point decline. The consensus is that Haliburton rushed back to the court before he was healthy to fulfill multiple incentives. The Indiana point guard needed to play 65 regular season contests to be eligible for the All-NBA team, MVP, and any other regular season honors — a mark he missed out on last year by nine games. This season, he played in 68 games. Haliburton gets a significant contract bump if he earns All-NBA honors, or is named MVP or Defensive Player of the Year, making it critical for the Pacers guard to reach the 65 games played plateau.

Unfortunately for the franchise, Haliburton’s urgency to return to the starting lineup means that the team is not at full strength during their playoff run. Haliburton was 4-7 with nine points, eight assists, and seven rebounds in Game 1 of Indiana’s playoff series against the Bucks. His seven shot attempts are the fewest in any game this season where he played at least 30 minutes. This is far from the eye-catching numbers Haliburton put up in the first half of the year.

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The team did add Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam, but Haliburton’s lack of offensive production has put an extra burden on Siakam and center Myles Turner. Siakam and Turner shot a combined 4-13 from beyond the arc in Game 1 against Milwaukee while attempting twice as many three-pointers compared to their season average.

While Siakam and Turner are both high-level players, Haliburton is the star of this team, the MVP candidate. The playoffs are about star players stepping up, and without Tyrese Haliburton at full health, it is difficult to see the Pacers advancing far in the postseason.

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