The first semifinal matchup of the NBA In-Season Tournament did not disappoint as the Indiana Pacers outlasted the Milwaukee Bucks for a thrilling 128-119 win. Tyrese Haliburton and Co. are now on to Saturday’s championship game, where they’ll face either the Los Angeles Lakers or New Orleans Pelicans.
After an even first quarter, the Pacers surged in front and took a double-digit lead into the break thanks in large part to their bench, which was led by the scrappy TJ McConnell. That second unit simply outworked the Bucks and gave the Pacers some extremely valuable minutes while Haliburton was off the floor.
You knew the veteran Bucks weren’t going to quit, though, and they came out swinging in the third quarter. Damian Lillard, who had just four points in the first half, led an explosive 25-9 run to re-take the lead and rained in four triples in the frame. That set the stage for would would be a fantastic fourth quarter. The two sides continuously traded baskets until Haliburton took over and called game with a personal 5-0 run in the closing 90 seconds.
Here are some key takeaways from the game:
Haliburton keeps on shining
Tyrese Haliburton has been one of the best players in the league this season and put together an unbelievable November that had him in the history books next to Michael Jordan and LeBron James. Even so, he was flying under the radar with the Pacers, who play in a small market and are rarely on national TV.
That all changed with the In-Season Tournament. Haliburton has kept up his incredible form and turned into the breakout star of the event. The Celtics and Bucks are the Eastern Conference’s two powerhouses, and he’s knocked them out in back-to-back games with flawless performances.
Any questions about whether the inaugural IST would work have well and truly been answered now.