Tyrese Haliburton was a full participant at Pacers practice for the first time since suffering a left elbow strain three weeks ago against the New York Knicks.
Now, he’s aiming to play Thursday against the Los Angeles Lakers. That’s the first of three games in four days, which also includes games against the Sacramento Kings and Cleveland Cavaliers.
All at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
“I feel good,” he said on Tuesday. “Every day is a little bit better, just excited to be here and practicing today. Obviously, it’s about getting back the feel of playing basketball through the offense and running 5-on-5. That’s a little different than what I’ve been doing 1-on-1.
“It’s been about getting my elbow straight, that’s been the biggest struggle.”
Haliburton has been running for several weeks to keep his conditioning up, and he’s been shooting with a brace on his left elbow for more than a week. “I was in a great rhythm when I got hurt so just trying to get back to that,” he said.
It’s been a night and day difference since he’s been out. The Pacers lost nine of their past 10 games. And they haven’t won a road game since Dec. 23.
Just before the Pacers host the Lakers on Thursday, Haliburton will learn whether he’s a first-time All-Star. Reserves are voted on by the head coaches and have already been cast. Haliburton, who is just 22, is having a career season in Indy, averaging 20.2 points and 10.2 assists per game.
Without Haliburton, they’re without their leader and opponents have been able to limit production of other players. Like Buddy Hield.
“I think with me on the floor, you have to account for another shooter,” Haliburton said. “The way I can come off ball screens, get into gaps and get get guys the ball, I’m probably the higher on the defensive scout. With me out, they’ve been able to focus more on him. They’re top locking him, not helping off of him. It’s been hard for him to get into rhythm and things like that. We have a great relationship so just trying to get him back into rhythm.”
As I reported last week on FieldhouseFiles.com, veteran big man Daniel Theis is targeting to return on Thursday. But for him, it would be his Pacers debut.
He was acquired in July, part of a six-player deal that sent Malcolm Brogdon to Boston.
Theis, who is in his seventh season, didn’t really have an offseason. He was part of the Celtics that reached the NBA Finals, then he earned the bronze medal with Germany in EuroBasket 2022. And it was during his time with his home country when Theis started to be bothered by right knee pain.
The Pacers eased him into training camp since he had just played high-level basketball with Germany two weeks earlier. But then pain his right knee would not go away; it continued to bother him.
So he had a minor procedure done out of state in early November, and he’s been sidelined ever since.
“I’m happy just to be out there again, pain-free and playing basketball,” Theis said. “I’ll keep doing what I’m doing, working and whenever the team or coach needs me, I’m ready for whatever.”
Scott Agness is in his 11th season as a beat writer covering the Indiana Pacers. Click here to read more of his work at FieldhouseFiles.com.
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