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Apr 27, 2024 12:48 pm

Pacers look to take 3-1 lead vs. ailing Bucks

haliburton

The Indiana Pacers will look to push the injury-riddled Milwaukee Bucks to the brink of elimination on Sunday when they play Game 4 of their Eastern Conference first-round series in Indianapolis.

All-Star guard Tyrese Haliburton converted a three-point play with 1.6 seconds remaining in overtime to lift the sixth-seeded Pacers to a 121-118 win over the third-seeded Bucks in Game 3 on Friday. Haliburton recorded the fourth postseason triple-double in franchise history after finishing with 18 points, 16 assists and 10 rebounds, helping Indiana seize a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

The Pacers are bidding to win a playoff series for the first time since reaching the 2014 conference finals.

That Haliburton would be the hero was unlikely given the way his game went, despite the triple-double. He was 8-of-22 from the field and 1-of-12 on 3-point shots.

“I just knew I was shooting it no matter what,” Haliburton said. “Didn’t know what I was going to get to, it was just kind of based off of feel out there. Khris (Middleton) pushed Pascal (Siakam) up to tell Patrick (Beverley) to go under, so as soon as I saw Patrick kind of turn his head I just reacted and that opened everything up across the middle and I finally made a shot. I couldn’t buy a bucket tonight.”

Said Aaron Nesmith: “Tyrese does what he does. We need him to be who he is, and that’s the player that he is. That’s the player that he can be. We’re just happy to have him on our side.”

Myles Turner finished with 29 points and nine rebounds and Siakam added 17 and nine, respectively. The Pacers’ productive offense proved to be just enough to overcome a 42-point performance from Milwaukee’s Middleton.

Middleton made a 3-pointer to tie the score at 111-111 with 2.3 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. The three-time All-Star also answered Nesmith’s corner 3 by banking home his shot from beyond the arc with eight seconds left in overtime.

Not too shabby considering Middleton was listed as questionable to play on Friday after spraining his right ankle during the first quarter of Game 2.

“Felt good enough to go, so I feel like once I’m out there, there’s no excuses,” Middleton said. “I just gotta play, forget about what I’m going through and just play.”

Damian Lillard’s availability could be in jeopardy after he sustained an apparent left leg injury late in the first quarter. The eight-time All-Star returned to the game before aggravating an Achilles injury. He finished with 28 points in 44 minutes.

“We are just taking a lot of hits right now as far as injury-wise,” Bucks coach Doc Rivers said.

Lillard said he intends to play on Sunday.

“That’s the plan,” Lillard said. “I think (Friday) it was so fresh after aggravating it after having a whole week of getting it together. … Obviously, we’re going to have to get ahead of it because it’s not something you want to play with it.”

Injuries are wreaking havoc with Rivers’ club, which has seen Giannis Antetokounmpo (left calf strain) sit out the team’s past six games dating back to the regular season. Rivers was asked if the two-time NBA MVP would be able to play on Sunday.

“Only if he’s healthy,” Rivers said. “We’re not going to rush anyone back. It’s too dangerous to do that.”

–Field Level Media

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