ϲʿֱ

Skip to content

SUBSCRIBER ONLY

Pacers’ Tyrese Haliburton says he needs to ‘do a better job of being aggressive’ after following up surge with quiet Game 5

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - MAY 12: Tyrese Haliburton #0 of the Indiana Pacers reacts after a three point basket against the New York Knicks in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Second Round Playoffs at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on May 12, 2024 in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – MAY 12: Tyrese Haliburton #0 of the Indiana Pacers reacts after a three point basket against the New York Knicks in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Second Round Playoffs at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on May 12, 2024 in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

After scoring only six points on six shot attempts in last week’s Game 1 loss to the Knicks, Pacers star acknowledged he needed to be more aggressive.

He certainly was in Games 2 through 4, averaging 29.7 points per game and helping his Pacers even the second-round series, 2-2.

But in the Pacers’ 121-91 loss on Tuesday in a pivotal Game 5 at Madison Square Garden, Haliburton’s performance was much more reminiscent of the series opener than it was of the next three games.

The 6-5 point guard finished with 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting, despite being guarded by 6-1 Miles McBride and 32-year-old Alec Burks. He had only seven points on four attempts in the first half. His five assists matched his series low. His -22 point differential was the worst among Indiana starters.

“I’ve just got to do a better job of being aggressive,” Haliburton said afterward. “I said the same thing after Game 1. It’s more on me than it is on what anybody else is doing, so I’ll fix that next game.”

It was a far cry from the Pacers’ Game 2 loss, when Haliburton scored 34 points on 11-of-19 shooting; their Game 3 win, when he scored 35 points on 14-of-26 from the field; and a Game 4 drubbing of the Knicks, when he totaled 20 points and a +31 point differential.

Each of those scoring totals led Indiana.

“Tyrese is a great young player,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said before Game 5. “He’s so respectful of where we are at this moment. He wants to learn. He wants to help the team win. … He’s the leader on the floor, so his job is to help do whatever’s needed. Sometimes it may not be scoring as much.”

Asked after the game about Haliburton’s performance, Carlisle pointed to the Pacers being outrebounded 53-29, including surrendering 20 offensive boards, and allowing the Knicks to shoot 47-of-101.

“If we don’t get stops and rebounds, our game is not gonna look good. We’re not gonna be able to get the ball out,” Carlisle said. “All of our playmakers are not going to have opportunities to get the ball and attack.”

Haliburton, a two-time All-Star in his fourth NBA season, got off to an uneven start this spring in his first trip to the playoffs. His 16.0 points per game in the first round against Milwaukee were 4.1 fewer than he averaged in the regular season, while his shooting numbers (43.5% field goals, 29.6% on 3-pointers) also paled in comparison (47.7%, 36.4%).

His postseason ascension came amid a rash of injuries, including a barking bark he tweaked during the series against the Bucks. He entered the Garden on Tuesday due to lower back spasms, as well as for a right ankle sprain and a sacral contusion, both of which picked up two games earlier.

But Haliburton hasn’t missed a game this postseason.

“I’m hurting, but they’ve got guys hurting, too,” Haliburton said after Game 3. “Everybody’s hurting right now.”

Haliburton previously suffered a left hamstring strain on Jan. 8. He was averaging 23.6 points and an NBA-best 12.5 assists per game at the time, then missed 10 of the next 11 games. His production after the injury dipped to 16.9 points and 9.5 assists per game over his final 36 regular-season appearances.

Haliburton’s scoring remained down during the sixth-seeded Pacers’ series victory in six games over Milwaukee in the first round, during which he surpassed 18 points only once, with 24.

Speculation about his health grew after Game 1 against the Knicks, but his 34 points in Game 2 marked his most since the hamstring injury. He topped that total in Game 3. His +31 in Game 4 represented his best point differential since December.

“He’s a great player,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said before Game 5. “We have to do better. He got going. He does it all. He can shoot. He can put it on the floor. He can pass.”

High-scoring guards have long haunted the Knicks. Those include Philadelphia’s Tyrese Maxey, who came into his own during this postseason’s first-round series.

Maxey totaled seven turnovers in Games 1 and 2 against the Knicks but committed only six turnovers over the next four games. He willed the Sixers to an instant-classic Game 5 victory by scoring seven of his 46 points in the last 25 seconds of regulation and totaling 22 points during the fourth quarter and overtime.

Historically, Knick-killing guards include Pacers great Reggie Miller, who averaged 23.1 points per game across six series against them from 1993-2000; and Michael Jordan, who scored at least 40 points seven times against the Knicks in the playoffs. His 54 points in Game 4 of the 1993 Eastern Conference semifinals remain the most ever by a Knicks opponent in a postseason game.

More recently, Atlanta’s Trae Young averaged 29.2 points per game in his first-ever playoff series to eliminate the Knicks in five games in 2021.

With his Pacers now down 3-2, Haliburton will get at least one more chance against the Knicks in Friday’s Game 6 in Indiana.

“I want to play high-level basketball,” Haliburton said at a Pacers practice in Midtown between Games 1 and 2. “I’ve always wanted to play playoff basketball. I’m here.”

More in Sports