The Fieldhouse was fun on Wednesday night when the Pacers snapped their seven game losing streak by holding on to beat the Wizards, 113-108 before taking off for the NBA All-Star break.
Not to worry for the Tankathon devotees, the Pacers remained in “5th place” in the draft position standings despite winning their 20th game in 60 tries. This was the first win in the week since Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield and Tristan Thompson arrived from Sacramento in a swap for Domas Sabonis, Justin Holiday and Jeremy Lamb.
Allow me to riff on a couple of observations from the Fieldhouse on Wednesday night, starting with Tristan Thompson. I’m not sure exactly what I expected from Thompson when the trade was announced, but it was nowhere near what he delivered in his week in Indy, which would be his only week with the Pacers, as Rick Carlisle revealed following the game.
Actually, what I expected was not much, assuming he’d be a rapid buyout candidate allowing the Pacers to utilize his $9 million in cap space next year while giving the veteran big a chance to join a contender. The fact that Thompson played was surprising, but needed after Isaiah Jackson and then Goga Bitadze went down, leaving little size in reserve.
But from a teammate, non Xs and Os perspective, Thompson was huge in facilitating the trade by supporting Tyrese Haliburton who was shocked and hurt by being dealt in just his second season. He also appeared to be a big hit with his new teammates when he was on the floor which was on display on Wednesday.
Prior to the tip, Thompson could be seen dapping up all of the starters as they made it to the floor and then working his way down the bench to hype of the coaches and reserve players. In hindsight, he looked like a guy who knew he would be jumping into a playoff run after the All-Star break, but that doesn’t mean he had to go the extra mile to deliver all of the positive vibes.
Thompson and Lance Stephenson had a few moments on the floor together and you could tell Stephenson appreciated his fellow vet’s approach to bringing some energy to the floor. And of course, he and Haliburton worked well together including a lob from the second year guard that had Thompson rolling back the clock and finishing with a dunk that seemed to surprise everyone involved.
Thompson deserves all of the cheers he heard along with the fond goodbyes following the game. Oh, and he capped off the impressive week with a fond farewell of his own.
Haliburton continues to deliver
In the four games since his arrival, Haliburton has revealed his current value and unlimited upside while exposing a personality which is a perfect fit for the face of the Pacers franchise. You want numbers, Haliburton has numbers and he also showed in the win, that he can create winning plays when needed at the end of games.
No step back, hope and chuck threes either, but break down the defense and get a shot to the rim or, as he did to close it out against the Wiz, draw the defense and dish for a dunk. This on a night when Haliburton spent plenty of dead ball time beating himself up for missed shots or other missed opportunities, particularly in the first half. This wasn’t his best showing, missing five of his six 3-ball attempts, but in the end he secured the W and finished with 21 points and 14 assists.
Oh, and there were at least five, maybe closer to 10 near assists that died via fouls or missed shots. Haliburton has the Pacers sharing and caring for the ball on the offensive end. For my fellow ”basketball as jazz and not math” devotee, the toe-tapping rhythm is sweet and frees up his teammates, in particular, Lance Stephenson to let loose and join the jam session.
The grind is gone at the Fieldhouse and raising expectations for what Haliburton can do with a healthy team around him. Then, if they can figure out how to slow down opponents on the defensive end, we may really have some thing nice brewing at the Fieldhouse.
Haliburton joined JMV on Thursday afternoon, after heading to Cleveland to prepare for the Rising Stars game on Friday. Check it out below at starting at the 48 minute mark.
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