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Pacers notes: Haliburton heats up in time to close out win in Cleveland
The Pacers All-Star is trying to figure out how best to impact team.
After drilling a trio of three-pointers down the stretch to secure the Pacers, 125-113 win over the Cavs, Tyrese Haliburton described his game up to that point as “awful” during his walk-off interview with Bally Sports’ Jeremiah Johnson.
We should all strive to be so awful considering Hali finished the game with 21 points, 13 assists and 8 rebounds, with four three-pointers and one measly turnover. But Haliburton is more focused on the process than the end result, which should be music to and fan’s ears.
In the opener, Haliburton scored five first-half points before turning decidedly more aggressive in the third quarter to finish the game with 20 points. Last night he had two points at the break then finished with 21 thanks to that 11-point barrage at crunch time. Haliburton elaborated on his frustrating assessment after returning to the locker room, expressing a need to better balance his impact on the game.
“I'm going through these phases in games right now where I'm coasting a little bit," Haliburton said. “I'm not trying to, and I don't feel like that in the moment, but when I watch, I'm like, I've got to get myself going.
As the team leader and point guard, Haliburton is like the host of the Pacers party every night. His Magic Johnson-like approach is to get his teammates going, make sure everyone is comfortable and eats before he gets his plate. Haliburton may need to alter his approach considering the clunky starts to the first two games, particularly when you consider such starts against better teams in the league will be a fatal blow to winning.
Eat, Tyrese eat!
The short-handed Cavs didn’t have enough in reserve to match the Pacers thanks to a quality effort from Aaron Nesmith (career effort), Andrew Nembhard and TJ McConnell in particular, flipped a first-quarter deficit by ramping up the defensive disposition while continuing to attack offensively. Nesmith’s baseline finishes at the rim are becoming a thing, highlighting a big night with 26 points, including 5 three-balls and 9 rebounds.
Yes, the Cavs were short-handed, but Caris LeVert’s 22 first-quarter points filled in nicely for Donovan Mitchell. Of course, there was no one to fill in for Caris LeVert’s normal role, so the Pacers depth was too much for Cleveland to handle. We can assume the matchup will be much different when the team’s meet again on Friday at the Fieldhouse.
Per normal, the strong effort from Nesmith and Nembhard in particular earned them more minutes including at closing time when they played in place of starters Bennedict Mathurin and Obi Toppin. Carlisle often says, minutes are earned and often that is within the context of the current game. With Mathurin’s struggles on the defensive end and Nesmith’s career offensive night to complement his defense, the choice was easy.
Hopefully, the quality play across the board improves to make these decisions much tougher.
Rebounds, Turnovers and Fouls
Keeping an eye on the problem areas for the Pacers.
Pacers were outrebounded 51-48 which is certainly tolerable, although Cleveland’s 18 offensive rebounds was not great.
The Pacers had 36 assists to 7 turnovers. Book those numbers every night.
The Pacers had 20 fouls which gave the Cavs 24 free throws. Fortunately, the Cavs only made 15 of the freebies.
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