The Indiana Pacers are hungry for a title, regardless of when it is awarded. Despite beating the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks in consecutive games, they enter the NBA In-Season Tournament Championship against the Los Angeles Lakers as clear underdogs. That label will only be reinforced following the latest injury update.
Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle revealed that guard Andrew Nembhard will not suit up on Saturday night in Las Vegas, Nevada's T-Mobile Arena, per FanDuel's Rob Lopez. This news was expected after he exited Thursday's semifinals showdown with a knee injury. Carlisle is hoping that the 23-year-old “dodged a bullet,” which would be a welcome consolation for his absence.
— Rob Lopez (@r0bato) December 8, 2023
Although his numbers and playing time are limited (7.0 points and 4.1 assists in 18.1 minutes per game), Nembhard is an important role player for Indiana. He has been overshadowed since his time with Gonzaga, but the No. 31 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft is a glue guy who deserves more recognition.
He put forth a balanced effort versus the Bucks, posting eight points on 4-of-5 shooting, two assists, one steal and one block in just 14 minutes of action. The one missed field goal came on a wide-open fast-break lay-up attempt, which is when the injury occurred.
The Pacers will sorely miss Andrew Nembhard's ability to maximize his modest court time in the In-Season Tournament Final. There will be even more onus on star point guard Tyrese Haliburton to carry the offensive load against the Lakers. But this upstart group has managed to wiggle its way past significant adversity already.
Can fortune find Indiana again in Vegas?