When the buzzer signaled the end of Game 4 of the 2024 Eastern Conference Finals, the Indiana Pacers were in disbelief and dejection.

Just like in two of the last three games in the series, the Pacers had a great chance of securing the victory over the Boston Celtics and the likes of Andrew Nembhard, Pascal Siakam, TJ McConnell and Aaron Nesmith were playing out of their minds. But unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to change the narrative of another Celtics victory.

Late-game execution (or lack thereof) reared its head again and sealed Indiana’s fate. The sloppy turnovers and the missed rebounds gave Boston more chances than they could have ever hoped for and an experienced team like the Celtics won’t waste them. The Game 4 numbers were slightly in favor of the Pacers, but the extra turnover Indiana committed (14-13) and the 11 points they gave up because of their errors (compared to the nine Boston handed Indiana) spelled the difference in what was a game, or rather, a series defined by the margins. 

While the Celtics did sweep the Pacers, this should not diminish how competitive the series was for the most part. Three of the four games went down to the final possession and in the end, Boston’s inevitability was too much to overcome.

As unfortunate as the ending may have been, Indiana shouldn’t fret. This postseason campaign is just the beginning, if the Pacers can capitalize on it going forward.

Indiana remains as potent as ever, given that they had eight players score at least eight points even without Tyrese Haliburton. The ball movement is there, and the Pacers do maximize these possessions.

Haliburton was also stellar in the regular season and carried this over to the postseason, until a hamstring injury forced him to sit out. Indiana may have been playing the long game by sitting the 24-year old out because he’s just getting started and looking at the bigger picture, that seems like the right decision.

When Haliburton went down, it was Nembhard who stepped up valiantly and played the series of his life. His ability to make big shots was on full display and the Pacers can envision a backcourt that should be deep and talented enough to potentially make a return trip to the Eastern Conference Finals.

After a long season, Indiana can look forward to resting and recharging for the next one. They may still be among the NBA’s young squads, but they are definitely wiser. The upcoming NBA Draft may not be the strongest, but it can be a place where the Pacers can find frontcourt support and bench depth. Bennedict Mathurin should also be healthy by the start of the 2024-2025 season and provide more depth to the Pacers’ roster.

The likes of Haliburton, Siakam, and Nembhard, though, will be gearing up for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. That experience should only serve as a proving ground for them in the same way Kobe Bryant used the 2008 Summer Olympics as his playground on the way to the 2009 NBA championship. It may not necessarily end up in a title for the Indiana Pacers, but it could provide them the spark that will keep them in the title hunt for years to come.