How Tyrese Haliburton can lead the Pacers to victory in a must-win Game 2

The Pacers need to win Game 2 to have a chance in the series, and it starts with Tyrese Haliburton's shooting.
Indiana Pacers v Cleveland Cavaliers
Indiana Pacers v Cleveland Cavaliers / Nick Cammett/GettyImages

The Indiana Pacers have another crack at this playoff thing tonight, and it all depends on Tyrese Haliburton.

Following Game 1, the biggest story surrounding the Pacers was the sheer passiveness of Tyrese Haliburton. In an unfortunate twist of events, Haliburton, who averaged around 17 shots prior to his injury and around 13 after it, only took seven shots in Indiana's 94-109 loss against Milwaukee. This was surprising to everyone, even Pacers fans. While Haliburton struggled with his shot and overall confidence in the second half of the season, he was never at this level of passive.

While Haliburton's lack of aggression was not the only reason why Indiana lost their first playoff game in four years, it was certainly a reason and enough of a reason to where he should change it going forward. Game 2 needs to be centered around getting Haliburton open shots and Haliburton himself not being afraid to tame them. For reference, Haliburton should look no further than Jalen Brunson and Jamal Murray's performances in their respective Game 2s on Monday.

Let's start with Brunson. In New York's Game 2 win over the 76ers, Brunson had a bad shooting night by all standards. Brunson shot a putrid 8/29 from the field and 1/6 from deep. By anybody's standards, this is a terrible game, and it was for the most part.

He struggled to get his shot going and never really found his rhythm, instead relying on role players such as Josh Hart and Donte DiVincenzo to keep the game close. However, Brunson never stopped shooting, and that was what ultimately gave New York the win.

With the game winding down, and the Knicks down by five, Brunson pulled up from deep with confidence and made one of the most important shots of the game, which was followed by a Knicks steal and DiVincenzo three to ultimately win the game 104-101.

As for Murray, he had an arguably worse game. In Denver's Game 2 against the Los Angeles Lakers, Murray scored 20 points on 9/24 shooting and missed all five of his three-pointers. Additionally, Denver struggled in the first half, as the Lakers built up as big as a 20-point lead at one point and looked to blow the Nuggets out to even the series. Sure enough, Murray's struggles in the first half played a huge part in this deficit, as he shot 2/10 from the field and only had four points.

However, just like Brunson, Murray did not let this affect his confidence for the rest of the night. In the fourth quarter, with the Nuggets down by 10 to start, Murray exploded for 14 points on an efficient 6/8 shooting, leading all players in scoring in the final 12 minutes. This came to a head in the final seconds, when Murray hit a fadeaway with the game tied to beat the buzzer and propel the Nuggets to a 2-0 series lead over the Lakers.

Personally, I hope Tyrese Haliburton got a chance to watch these games between practices. This is exactly how Haliburton should approach Game 2 and the rest of the series. To clarify, he is allowed to have off-shooting nights. Especially with his lack of playoff experience, it is normal for a player like him to struggle with his jumper to start off. What is not excusable, however, is his lack of shooting altogether. Seven shots is atrocious, no matter how you slice it.

To put it bluntly, Haliburton would be better off shooting 8/22 than shooting 4/7, because that means his confidence is still high enough to where he is putting up shots regularly. In the playoffs, especially for a young team, confidence is key, and from what we've seen in the regular season and IST, Haliburton does not lack confidence at all.


Now, all we need for him to do is show that on the biggest stage yet, and lead the Pacers to a Game 2 win, tying the series up before it heads to Indiana and a potential Giannis Antetokounmpo return for Game 3.