The Pacers are back in action on Wednesday night when they host some familiar faces with the Sacramento Kings. But one of those friendly faces will be missing since former Pacers Domantas Sabonis did not make the trip and will miss the game due to a bruised knee.
Arriving without Domas takes some juice out of the Kings visit, but that won’t matter to Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield who will get to face their former team as the key players on the other side of the trade that sent Sabonis, Justin Holiday and Jeremy Lamb to Sac just prior to the trade deadline.
Haliburton has been quite open about how the trade stunned him initially and turned quite emotional as he adjusted to the move to Indy and starting over with a new franchise. Hali hasn’t been shy telling his story with the media in all forms, and this week GQ released an interview with Haliburton which updates his adjustment to the Pacers.
One answer stood out, when asked about the differences between the Pacers and Kings:
The biggest thing is the outlook. In Sacramento, it was a lot of “we’re trying to make the play-in game,” and all these things. But, we weren’t winning. And it was pretty obvious we weren’t going to [meet our goals]. It was gonna take a big turn to win a lot of games and get there. When I got to [Indiana] that was evident. The same record as the Kings, too. But they were like, “listen, we’re not gonna make the playoffs but we’re gonna build winning habits and it’s not gonna be the same thing next year. We’re gonna change this.”
It was refreshing to come somewhere with other young guys and a coaching staff and front office that were trying to build habits to make us successful next season. Coming into an environment where the expectations are the same down the line is a change.
In the midst of this discombobulated season which has seen many a solid reserve players get plenty of opportunities in various rotations, it is interesting to see Haliburton infer that despite what you see on the floor, behind closed doors, the organization is promoting a plan to continue building around the quality young talent. Even if they don’t want to admit it publicly. There are several moving parts to that plan, but getting the key players on the same page is a good start.
Buddy Hield will also look forward to playing his former team and while Haliburton was shocked by the trade, Hield celebrated the move to get out of a role he didn’t enjoy and the Pacers have obliged, allowing the volume shooter to do more than spot up which has made his game surprisingly fun to watch quite often. In fact, his struggles shooting from deep have been Hield’s biggest negative of late.
FiveThirtyEight recently broke down how Hield’s game has changed in Indy, showing how he has doubled his drives in the lane and raised his assist levels with great success. Pacers.com checked in with Hali and Hield as they prep to face the Kings and Hield explained what he has enjoyed about running with the Pacers under Rick Carlisle.
“Different style, different opportunity,” Hield said of his playmaking success. “I think Rick gave me a better opportunity than (I had in) Sacramento that helps me to show that. When I wanted to (do more with the ball), they just wanted me to be a corner catch-and-shoot guy. So now I’ve been able to show what I can do and just be free and playing basketball happy again.”
Hopefully, it won’t be long until the fans are ‘basketball happy’ at the Fieldhouse again, as well.
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