Indiana Pacers: Bennedict Mathurin gets first career start
Bennedict Mathurin gets the start, but Andrew Nembhard steals the show against Golden State on the road.
After 23 games on the bench, Bennedict Mathurin was called to start against the Golden State Warriors on the road. Indiana had six players out with injury or illness in this contest — Haliburton, Turner, and McConnell were key pieces among those missing. Indiana still won the game.
That left Rick Carlisle no choice but to start two of their 2022 draftees, including Mathurin and Andrew Nembhard who had a career night. Nembhard was the best rookie on the floor tonight and Mathurin had a solid game himself.
With both T.J. McConnell and Haliburton out, Nembhard and Mathurin were given a “golden” opportunity to show what they can do in this league. That was cheesy but it is 1 AM. Honestly, though the poise Nembhard has is what separates him from other rookies and is making it hard for Carlisle to keep him sidelined.
It was a career-high 31 points, 13 assists, and 8 rebounds and was 13/21 from the field. Nembhard had it rolling in the fourth quarter and sealed the game against the reigning champions. Mathurin shared the court in those final minutes as well and was able to convert a free throw at the line to ice the win.
How about a pull-up three with Steph Curry guarding you with the game on the line? Talk about confidence — hitting the game-winner over Lebron James may help with that.
Kendall Brown also got some game time with only 11 available players. He had three points and five rebounds while providing depth on the wing. Carlisle had him in the game for 17 minutes which was a career-high.
Bennedict Mathurin was asked to carry the offensive workload early and played nearly the entire first quarter and totaling nearly 40 minutes. A lot can be said about this Pacers draft class, and it is one of the best in recent years. Really the last two drafts have been memorable for Indiana, landing Chris Duarte and Isaiah Jackson the year prior.
Mathurin finished with 14 points and two rebounds, but could not connect on his three-point shot. He was 0/6 from the arc but was able to make six of his eight free throw attempts. Having a reliable double-figure scorer that can get hot from deep is huge and is something that will continue, despite a shooting slump.
No matter what the game script dictates Mathurin will drive, make contact, and force officials to call the and-1. There has not been a huge negative with him on the defensive side of the ball as well which to me will make his rookie of the year case much stronger.
While he may be the favorite for rookie of the year so far, Nembhard was the rookie of the game in this one and is playing like a top-ten draft pick. I can not believe the Pacers were able to get him at 31st overall but I am glad they did. Credit to the front office who have built a fantastic young core in just two short years.
This time last year if McConnell was injured Indiana had to turn to Brad Wannamaker who was their third-string point guard. Thankfully, that is no longer the case.
A three-game losing streak was snapped and the Pacers are now 13-11 — fifth in the Eastern Conference.
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