1. Tyrese Haliburton impresses in return
After not playing an NBA game since March 25 and not playing a basketball game since September 11, Tyrese Haliburton has returned to the Pacers lineup against Atlanta and played like he didn’t miss a single step.
During the 2024 FIBA World Cup, Haliburton made his name known on the global stage with a barrage of flashy passes, expert displays of playmaking, shooting ability, and overall leadership. Team USA was undoubtedly better with him on the floor as opposed to him off it, despite him coming off the bench.
Haliburton carried most of this energy back to American soil. He mostly picked up right where he left off, despite this being his first time playing with several players, including Bruce Brown, Obi Toppin, Jarace Walker, and Ben Sheppard.
Despite this rather unfamiliarity, Haliburton played like he was on the floor with his old friends from high school as he slid right into the Pacers’ new lineup, which was built around him, after all. His first play of the game was a patented dish to the corner to Myles Turner for a three-pointer.
Of course, this wouldn’t be a Tyrese Haliburton game without a little bit of flash, as he demonstrated with a beautiful between-the-legs pass to Buddy Hield, who found Jalen Smith open for three to complete the highlight play.
In addition to the fantastic passing ability, he hit two three-pointers, including a spectacular stepback three to put the Pacers up 23 in the second half.
Haliburton also showed his ability to attack the basket, converting on a smooth euro step up-and-under finish in traffic.
All in all, Tyrese Haliburton had a very solid return game, putting up 15 points (4/9 FG, 2/7 3PT, 5/6 FT), three rebounds, eight assists, and one steal in just over 23 minutes of action.
While the Indiana Pacers’ new guys already looked impressive with TJ McConnell feeding them the ball, Haliburton took things to another level and made role players look like stars in the process, a process that he is very familiar with.
Despite Haliburton returning to the lineup, sophomore backup point guard Andrew Nembhard has still not seen any playing time, as he has been doing better, but is not fit to play just yet. Rick Carlisle hopes he will be ready for full practices soon, although do not expect him to play in Friday’s matchup against Cleveland either.