Tyrese Haliburton, Aaron Nesmith, Andrew Nembhard celebrating Haliburton's game-winning shot
(Emil Vajgrt)

Haliburton Caps Historic Game 3 Performance with Overtime Heroics

In the center of a sea of gold, Indiana Pacers All-Star point guard Tyrese Haliburton let his instincts take over as he lowered his head and barreled out of the backcourt in the final ticks of overtime.

After navigating between two Milwaukee Bucks defenders near the mid-court stripe, Haliburton propelled himself down the middle of the lane and rose up just inside the free throw line with a floater, lifting the ball over a man in the middle and turning a historical performance into a legendary one.

With a triple-double already logged — just the fourth in Pacers playoff history — Haliburton's tear-drop from 15 feet fell, a foul was called, and he converted the ensuing free throw to help the Blue & Gold to a 121-118 Game 3 win and a 2-1 series lead over the Bucks on Friday at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

As the final buzzer sounded, Haliburton grabbed the corners of his jersey near his collarbone and bellowed with his head high towards the deafening Hoosier crowd, reciprocating the electric energy fans supplied for 53 minutes.

“I live for these moments,” Haliburton said. “That’s why I’m here. They have a lot of trust in me; this organization does. I felt like with six seconds, it was enough time for me to get a good look, and it happened.”

Haliburton's game-winner punctuated his final stat line of 18 points, 16 assists, and 10 rebounds. In Pacers NBA playoff history, only Victor Oladpio (2018), Paul George (2013), and Mark Jackson (1998) have also recorded triple-doubles.

Additionally, Haliburton's 16 assists on Friday are the second-most in a playoff game by a Pacers player, just one short of Jackon’s record of 17 assists set against the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1998.

“Tyrese does what he does,” Pacers starting forward Aaron Nesmith said. “We need him to be who he is, and that’s the player that he is. That’s the player that he can be. We’re just happy to have him on our side.”

From the first play, a dime to Myles Turner on the opening possession, Haliburton was locked in.

Haliburton had six points, four rebounds, and five assists in the first quarter alone, distributing the ball to four different players while also crashing the glass and putting pressure on the rim to help orchestrate a 39-22 lead. The 39 points matched the most points ever by a Pacers team in any quarter in the playoffs, set in 2000 in the NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers.

In the second quarter, Haliburton continued to dish no-look passes while also throwing down a putback dunk on an offensive rebound to help the Pacers to a 67-55 halftime lead. The Wisconsin native had eight points, 11 assists and five rebounds at the break.

After a so-so third quarter by his standards, Haliburton had a hand in almost every key play in the final stretch of the fourth quarter.

Tied at 97 with six minutes left in regulation, Haliburton hit a step-back 3-pointer to put the Pacers in front before conducting the offense in the closing minutes. In the final 4:10, Haliburton assisted on back-to-back baskets by Turner and blocked a shot attempt by 7-foot-1 Bucks center Brook Lopez.

Despite missing shots early in the overtime period, Haliburton collected three big defensive rebounds before coming up with the clutch finish.

“As the series has progressed, his defensive tenacity has ramped up,” Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle said. “His awareness for the little things involved in playoff basketball has become keener. His five offensive rebounds were huge tonight.”

On the game's final play, the Pacers gave Haliburton latitude on how to approach the last possession.

“I just knew I was shooting it no matter what,” Haliburton said. “Didn’t know what I was going to get to, it was just kind of based off of feel out there. Khris (Middleton) pushed Pascal up to tell Patrick (Beverley) to go under, so as soon as I saw Patrick kind of turn his head I just rejected and that opened everything up across the middle."

In no small part thanks to Haliburton’s ball distribution, Turner finished with a career playoff-high 29 points in the game.

Turner wasn’t surprised Haliburton came though, and saluted him on the floor after the final buzzer.

“I think he understands what time of year this is,” Turner said. “Even defensively, he’s really moving, he’s very active, he’s using his length.”

Postgame, Haliburton said he’s not trying to get too high off the Game 3 results, and the focus is on getting two more wins to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Indiana will host Milwaukee for Game 4 on Sunday at 7 p.m. Visit Pacers.com/Playoffs to get your tickets today.

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