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NBA In-Season Tournament Semifinals: Indiana Pacers vs Milwaukee Bucks

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(Las Vegas, NV) – The Indiana Pacers (12-8) are headed to the first ever In-Season Championship after topping the Milwaukee Bucks (15-7) from Las Vegas 128-119 behind another marvelous performance by Tyrese Haliburton.


The third In-Season Tournament game for the Indiana Pacers featured the highest total since 1991 at 254.5 when they faced the Atlanta Hawks. The total for tonight’s game closed at a record high 257.5 points. The under would be the obvious play watching the first quarter. Milwaukee quickly went ahead, but Indiana would not waiver. After trailing 19-12 five minutes into the game, the Pacers would limit the Bucks to four points the next four minutes to tie it at 23. After twelve minutes of play, Milwaukee led Indiana 29-27. Giannis Antetokounmpo led all scorers in the first quarter with ten points, but his star counterpart in Damian Lillard struggled. The former Trail Blazer missed all six of his shot attempts. Myles Turner was effective and efficient in the first quarter with the Bucks drop coverage in the pick-and-roll. Turner scored 10 points on four-for-six shooting. Haliburton attempted four two-point shots in the first period.


The second quarter would have the biggest impact on the outcome of the game because of how effective the Pacers were offensively. Additionally, their defense stepped up like the second half in the Boston Celtics game Monday night. The two teams would be tied at 34 with nine minutes remaining before intermission. For the next seven minutes, the Pacers outscored the Bucks 22-10 to go ahead by a game high 12 points.  Indiana would maintain that twelve-point lead after twenty-four minutes leading Milwaukee 63-51. Giannis followed up his ten-point first quarter with another ten-point quarter. That means the Greek freak has scored 74 points against the Pacers in the last six quarters. Obi Toppin came up big in the quarter for the blue and gold with eight points. The bench between Bennedict Mathurin, T.J. McConnell, and Isaiah Jackson scored 15 of the 36 second quarter points. The Pacers held the Bucks to just one three in the second quarter on five attempts and forced six turnovers along in the quarter. Indiana also got to the foul line ten times. Giannis led all scorers with 20 points at halftime followed up by Turner with 16 points.


It was only a matter of time before the All-Star point guards got going for Milwaukee and Indiana. After shooting 2/10 in the first half, Lillard got hot in the third quarter for the Bucks. He made all four shots from downtown with his only miss from the field being a two-point shot. Dame ended up scoring 16 points in the quarter because of converting all four free throw attempts. Haliburton led Indiana in scoring for the quarter with nine points while dishing out five dimes. The second half for Indiana did not start well. In fact, Rick Carlisle burned a timeout after Milwaukee’s first possession. It did not halt the momentum Milwaukee was generating. It took the Bucks four minutes and twenty-one seconds to take the lead in the third quarter despite trailing by twelve at halftime. In fact, after taking a 73-72 advantage with 6:47 remaining, the Bucks would not trail the rest of the quarter. The largest deficit Indiana would face was six points. After thirty-six minutes, Milwaukee led Indiana 94-91 with a 43-point third quarter.


The final quarter of play would be very similar to the second quarter. Milwaukee had all the momentum going into the final twelve minutes, but the Pacers would not quit. Indiana went ahead by four points after two minutes of play. The two teams would exchange buckets for the next seven minutes, but Indiana would never trail by more than a point. They would go ahead by three points on a couple different occasions but couldn’t break through…until Tyrese Haliburton had his first national television moment. After a Giannis layup to narrow the margin back to three points, Haliburton converted a tough layup to go up by five points again at 119-114 with 93 seconds left. Brook Lopez would miss a three before Haliburton drilled a step back three to give Indiana an eight-point lead with 48 seconds remaining. All the Pacers had to do the rest of the way was make their free throws and contest Milwaukee’s threes. After Buddy Hield converted two free throws and a missed shot by Khris Middleton, Indiana would claim the first spot in the In-Season Tournament Championship with a 129-119 win. Bruce Brown quietly led the Pacers in scoring with eight points and Middleton led Milwaukee in scoring with seven.

TOP PERFORMERS: Tyrese Haliburton (27p, 15a, 7r, 0 turnovers), Myles Turner (26p, 10r, 3b), Obi Toppin (14p), Isaiah Jackson (11p in 16 minutes), and T.J. McConnell (9p, 4a, 3s). Giannis Antetokounmpo (37p, 10r, 2b), Damian Lillard (24p, 7r, 7a), Khris Middleton (20p, 7r, 4a), and Brook Lopez (18p, 6r, 4b). For tonight’s full box score, click here.

NOTES: Tonight’s win marked the first time all season that the Pacers have won a game without making 10+ threes. Indiana improves to 7-2 when holding opponents under 120 points. Tyrese Haliburton registered his third game of the season with 25+ points, 15+ assists, and 0 turnovers…since November 12th (nobody in the NBA history has done it more than once).  Haliburton is averaging 27.8 points, 13.7 assists, and 5.5 rebounds in the In-Season Tournament. In his last two games, he’s scored 53 points and dished out 28 assists without turning the ball over. Tonight marked the fifth time in Buddy Hield’s 126 games in Indiana where he failed to make a three and second time this season.

NEXT UP: Indiana will take on the Los Angeles Lakers Saturday evening at 8:30pm eastern. The Kroger Pregame Show with Pat Boylan will start at 8pm eastern on 93.5/107.5 The Fan with Pat Boylan.

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