It's Haliburton (and the Pacers') Time
Tyrese Haliburton and the Pacers beat another Eastern Conference power. So now they will face the Los Angeles Lakers in the tournament championship on Saturday (8:40 p.m. ET, ABC) — for a $500k prize.
LAS VEGAS — Tyrese Haliburton wasn’t going to let the moment pass. This stage is what he and the entire team have been wanting and working toward for more than a year.
All eyes were on Las Vegas Thursday afternoon as the Pacers faced the Milwaukee Bucks in the first of two semi-final games at T-Mobile Arena.
After missing a pull-up 3-pointer with less than a minute to play, Haliburton got his own rebound. The Pacers then got into a typical action with Myles Turner coming up to screen and then rolling.
Bucks center Brook Lopez stepped up to defend and Haliburton took one dribble inside the left arc, then drilled a step-back 3-pointer to put the Pacers ahead by eight points with 48 second to play.
“A superstar in the making,” Pacers Hall of Famer Reggie Miller said on the ESPN telecast.
Sorry, Reggie. But he’s already arrived.
This Pacers’ tournament run simply served as a coming out party for those outside Indiana, not just for the Pacers but especially for Haliburton, who was a first-time All-Star last season.
After he made the shot and the Bucks called timeout, Haliburton looked at his right wrist as he walked toward the scorer’s table. Everybody in the building and watching on TV knows what that was — it was Bucks guard Damian Lillard’s signature celebration.
Only now, it was Haliburton time. And finally, the world is seeing what Pacers fans have been enjoying for two-plus seasons.
“It was just in the heat of the moment, having fun,” Haliburton said of his reaction. “I know I kind of pounded my chest and said it was my time, whatever, but I think really looking at it, it's our time. It's our time as a group. We're playing the right way, and like I said, we're shocking the world right now. We're going to continue to do that.
“As long as we play the right way, we know we're going to be in every basketball game. We have a lot of confidence in ourselves. It doesn't matter who believes in us. It really doesn't. As long as the guys in the locker room do. We've got all the trust in the world in ourselves, and we're going to continue to have that.”
Lillard, who has been in the NBA since 2012, can appreciate Haliburton’s rise. He went to Weber State and rarely got the spotlight because he’s spent much of his career in Portland.
After the game, Lillard gave a mature answer on Haliburton’s nod to Dame.
“I learned as a kid, when you dish it out, you've got to be willing to take it,” he said. “For as many times as I've done it to people, I can't be upset when somebody else does it, you know what I mean. I think that's also a sign of respect and acknowledgment for knowing my history and knowing what I do.
“I didn't mind it. It was what it was. I've also known that, you know, when you are having your moment, it's important to be careful, to be humble in your moments because you just never know how the tables are going to turn or when they are going to turn. I respected it.”
Haliburton, who is still fighting bronchitis, finished with 27 points, seven rebounds and 15 assists.
And in the last two games, against the Celtics and Bucks, he’s piled up 53 points, 28 assists, 0 turnovers in 77 minutes.
“We know Ty is going to hit those,” Obi Toppin said of Haliburton’s dagger 3-pointer. “He's done it every single game so far. He's a really good player, especially late-game clutch player.”
The Pacers have now disposed of the top two teams in the Eastern Conference — first Boston and now Milwaukee — and they’re headed to the first-ever In-Season Tournament Championship game.