Ian Maule / Associated Press
Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023 | 4:44 p.m.
The Indiana Pacers are headed to the finals of the NBA’s first ever In-Season Tournament after holding off a potential comeback from the Milwaukee Bucks, winning 128-119 at T-Mobile Arena on Thursday.
Tyrese Haliburton finished with a team-high 27 points and 15 assists, and center Myles Turner added a double-double of his own with 26 points and 10 rebounds to continue the young Pacers’ unexpected run to the championship game.
Indiana had a 63-51 halftime lead, but had to withstand a rally led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, who had a game-high 37 points and 10 rebounds, and 24 points from Damian Lillard. But the Pacers held Milwaukee to 44% shooting.
The NBA billed these In-Season Tournament games with a similar feel to a Game 7, especially in the knockout round. With the Bucks down 12 at halftime, they found that second gear as they would for a Game 7.
Lillard, who shot 2 of 10 from the field in the first half, scored 16 points in the third quarter and made four 3-pointers to get the Bucks back in the game. They opened the second half on a 25-9 spurt to take a 76-72 lead midway through the third.
Haliburton had nine points in the third for Indiana. He and Turner were a constant force. The pick-and-roll game between the two was a problem for the Bucks’ defense and allowed the Pacers to maintain an offensive rhythm.
Down the stretch, the Pacers’ face of the franchise put the game away with a step-back 3-pointer over Bucks center Brook Lopez with 48 seconds left for a 122-114 lead.
If there’s anything that can be said about the In-Season Tournament, the unpredictability makes for intrigue. No one predicted the Pacers to get this far. With wins over the Boston Celtics and now the Bucks, they’re one win away from winning the first NBA Cup.
The Pacers will face the winner of Thursday night’s matchup between the Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans.
Check back later for updates on the Pacers’ win