Tyrese Haliburton looks to move past bad game
The Pacers point guard had an off night against the Heat, finishing with one point and six assists. It's a teaching moment and can lead to more growth from the team as a whole.
Buddy Hield provided the best description of what we saw from Tyrese Haliburton Monday in their loss to the Miami Heat. Remember, he’s been with Haliburton for every game of his young career.
“That’s probably the worst game I’ve seen Tyrese play watching his whole career,” Hield said on Monday. “I told him, ‘This is your first one. I had like 20.’ This happens, we’re all professionals but we all have off nights.
“The good thing in NBA is you have another one in 48 hours to figure it out, grind it, flush this one and move on. Tyrese will find it.”
That time will be on Wednesday against the reigning NBA Champions, the Golden State Warriors at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. (Haliburton did not play in last week’s matchup in San Francisco due to an injury; that game will be remembered as The Andrew Nembhard Game.)
Haliburton, who is averaging 19.4 points and a league-best 10.8 assists per game, was held to one point by the Heat. That one point came on a technical foul shot. He missed all nine field goal attempts and didn't earn a trip to the foul line.
He was not one of the two players to speak on the podium after the loss, but he did talk on Tuesday after a rare practice that followed a stretch of six games in nine days.
“I don’t want to take away from the talent that they have defensively and the genius that is (Heat coach) Erik Spoelstra and their defensive schemes,” he said. “But I just had a rough game.”
And that game had an old-school feel to it. The final score was Heat 87, Pacers 82 — the lowest of any combined score in the NBA this season. Neither team shot 40% or more than 20 free throws.
“I’ve never played in the playoffs so I can’t speak on it, but coach (Carlisle) talked about how that was more of a playoff feel with the game being slowed down and playing more half-court basketball,” Haliburton said.
“This is make or miss league and I didn’t make a shot (Monday).”
Rick Carlisle praised Haliburton for his contributions beyond scoring, like his leadership, defense, deflections and staying up beat — all things great players must do even on nights when they don’t have it.
With the Heat, you know you’re going to face something a little bit different. On the offensive end, they sent four players back on defense — having only Bam Adebayo to crash — to keep the Pacers from running. And they are so good at that.
The Pacers rank fifth in pace and second in fast break points (17.6). The Heat held the Pacers to 12. And they also have several good defenders and were able to switch, which caused the Pacers some problems.
“It’s not a Tyrese thing,” Carlisle emphasized at practice on Tuesday, “it’s a team thing. It’s where our mindset as a team has to be a little different in games like that — where it’s a high-level of physical contact and not a lot of whistles blowing. We got to figure out better ways to create space and take advantage of stops.”
Now 28 games in, teams have a much better feel for how the Pacers (14-14) want to play and how to potentially minimize their strengths. Haliburton wants the ball in his hands to hurry it up the floor and create. In the second half, Nembhard brought the ball up often and Haliburton went to the corner.
“I think every game, teams are starting to take us more serious,” Haliburton said. “We’re moving up every day in the standings or expectations are moving up. We’ve been picked last in the NBA all year so now teams are playing us with more sense of urgency.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, Haliburton said he hadn’t watched the game film yet from Monday. I’m sure he will before playing the Warriors on Wednesday. That game can represent growth for him, another collection of intel to store away for the future as he continues to learn.
It’s easy to forget how he’s just 22 years old and early into his third season as a pro.
Carlisle had it right after Monday’s loss. “We’ve just become so used to his level of excellence” with Haliburton. That’s why his play and zero field goals stood out. It was also just his eighth game this season collecting less than 10 assists.
Tuesday’s practice was appreciated by the team because there just hasn’t been time to hold one in recent weeks. They spent time on defensive schemes as well as new ways to attack a zone because they’re seeing more of it, including from the Heat on Monday. That led to more instruction on half-court continuity and being productive in those sets, Haliburton shared.
“Move the ball and try to stray away from isos and more free-flowing,” he said. “It feels good to be in here. It’s the first time I’ve been in my practice locker room in it feels like a month.”