Mathurin helps Pacers secure win in Detroit, now on to Milwaukee for another test
The Pacers avoided a let-down loss situation in Detroit and will now have to rise up with another big effort as they try to beat the Bucks for the third time this season.
The Pacers were far from perfect in putting away the Pistons, 131-123 on Monday night. But considering the circumstances, taking care of business and handing Detroit their 20th consecutive loss made it a strong effort. After a few days in the Vegas/NBA hype machine, the Pacers were suddenly a few time zones to the east and playing in front of a muffled crowd on the road.
The Pacers had no shortage of energy, though and in fact seemed to be trying to do too much at times which resulted in a big batch of early turnovers. But Myles Turners recovered from his bad outing against the Lakers, Buddy Hield made a few threes and then Bennedict Mathurin took over.
For the third or fourth time this year, Rick Carlisle declared Mathurin’s effort his best as a Pacers and this one will be hard to beat. An efficient 30 points along with 8 assists and 7 rebounds spearheaded the Pacers winning effort, as Benn played over 37 minutes off the bench.
The Pacers were able to keep Mathurin on the floor with a variety of five-man groups because he just couldn’t stop producing positive results. He was on a plane of awareness and decision making that we haven’t seen for this extended amount of time. Crashing the glass, not holding the ball, but attacking within the flow of the offense. And the passing. Whoa, showing off the awareness that he was surveying the floor before the ball made it his way, hunting for ways to make plays.
It appears as though Mathurin has been learning by osmosis after witnessing Tyrese Haliburton for the past six weeks and all of the good stuff came to the surface at once. In fact, after Benn’s signature assist, a left-handed whip pass from the perimeter to Isaiah Jackson at the rim, Haliburton celebrated by playfully covering one of the zeros on Mathurin’s jersey.
It was also a thank you to Benn for taking over, because Haliburton did not have his ‘A’ game which sounds ridiculous if you look at the stat sheet and see a 14 point, 16 assist game. Call me spoiled, but the seven turnovers Haliburton had, particularly early in the game when the ‘trap game’ impact was alive and well, required his teammates to do more of the heavy lifting in this win. Fortunately, Hali was quite capable of filling a supporting role while others stepped up to lead the way to win No. 13.
On to Milwaukee
The Pacers now face the Bucks in Milwaukee on Wednesday night, less than a week after a monster win in the IST Semis in Vegas. No doubt, the Bucks will be looking forward to this rematch on their home floor. Not only are the Pacers 2-0 in what is now a five-game regular season series, but the Pacers spirited win in Vegas left Milwaukee a bit salty. Damian Lillard will surely be trying to ‘turn the tables’ on Tyrese Haliburton and deliver a little ‘Dame Time’ to the Pacers young start.
Love this situation for Haliburton, facing a top team, with a legendary point guard. Just as we expect Lillard to be laying in wait to attack, there is no doubt that Haliburton is relishing the opportunity to double-down on his last effort against the Bucks.
Bring on the smoke!
Where: Fiserv Forum, Milawukee, WI
When: Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2023, 8:00 p.m. ET
TV: Bally Sports
Radio: 93.5/107.5 The Fan
Pacers: Tyrese Haliburton, Bruce Brown, Buddy Hield, Obi Toppin, Myles Turner
Bucks: Damian Lillard, Malik Beasley, Khris Middleton, Gianni Antetokounmpo, Brook Lopez
Pacers: Andrew Nembhard (knee) - out, Jalen Smith (knee/heel) - out
Bucks: Jae Crowder (groin) - out, Pat Connaughton (ankle) - out, Chris Livingston (ankle) - out
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