SLC Dunk's Adam Bushman sees the Pacers' In-Season Tournament quarterfinals upset win over the Boston Celtics as justification for Indiana to be aggressive in improving their roster ahead of the February trade deadline.
"The In Season Tournament is going to usher in a new level of urgency for the trade market to get started sooner," Bushman prefaced before saying, "This is because front offices and coaching staffs will have a perfect petri dish in which to experiment where high stakes games will show them what the team is made of.
"If you’re the Sacramento Kings, for example, where you fell at home to the New Orleans Pelicans, you may learn far more from that data point than what the next 20 games of regular season play may tell you. Or if you’re the Indiana Pacers, who took down the Boston Celtics in the quarterfinals, you may wish to lean into your strengths or address targeted weaknesses because this team with Haliburton at the helm is ready."
Tyrese Haliburton proved he's an MVP candidate and that Pacers are legitimate during In-Season Tournament win over Boston Celtics
Haliburton proved he was a true MVP candidate and that the Pacer are a legitimate threat in the Eastern Conference during the December 4 122-112 win over the Celtics. We had seen signs that the former Iowa State star was on the cusp of arriving, but the dominance against the league's championship frontrunner now makes it undeniable.
Does this mean Indiana will make a splashy move to solidify a title? That's unclear. With eight double-digit scorers, there's more than enough well-fitting talent around Haliburton, who's dishing out 12 assists per game, and messing up what they have could undo the progress the Pacers have made since arriving ahead of the 2021-22 season; going from a sub-.500 team to one that can beat even the best of the best.