Boston Celtics eliminated during In-Season Tournament quarterfinal by legit MVP candidate

The Boston Celtics were downed during the In-Season Tournament's quarterfinal by a legit MVP candidate on December 4.
Dec 4, 2023; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton (0) shoots while
Dec 4, 2023; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton (0) shoots while / Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Celtics were eliminated from the inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament's quarterfinal round by the Indiana Pacers off the strength of an MVP race coming-out party for Tyrese Haliburton -- who had 26 points, 13 assists, and 10 rebounds in his first career triple-double in the biggest game of his career.

"Tyrese Haliburton telling the NBA he needs more National Televised games!!! That young man is Special," tweeted Kendrick Perkins in an acknowledgement of how far the Iowa State product has come since being drafted by the Sacramento Kings in 2020. Well said, Perk.

It's hard not to recognize Haliburton as one of the Eastern Conference's preeminent stars, and a true roadblock for Banner 18 in the postseason considering how potent the point guard is able to make a Pacers offense that has shooting all over the depth chart.

Boston Celtics must look in mirror and realize depth is not good enough as is

The Celtics' elder statesmen, Al Horford and Jrue Holiday, seemed spent during the C's 122-112 loss at the Gainbridge Fieldhouse on December 4. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Derrick White combined for 80 points, but the bench was carried by a 5/7 shooting night from Sam Hauser. Payton Pritchard went scoreless on a 0/5 shooting night.

Boston's second unit didn't look good enough. Or anything close.

Brad Stevens made wholesale changes in the offseason in acquiring Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis, but on nights without either, which the In-Season Tournament's quarterfinal matchup was for the Celtics without the Latvian center, they are behind the 8-ball with such a weak bench. And even when the team is at full health, they may have to be go six or seven deep in the postseason based on the early returns in 2023-24.

Expect a busy trade deadline, even if it's just a minor deal or two that sets up a bigger buyout market season.