Tyrese Haliburton shows promising signs for Pacers in bounce-back game vs. Mavericks

After nearly a week of poor play following the All-Star Game, Tyrese Haliburton has shown signs of a return to his former self against the Dallas Mavericks. That's great news for the Pacers.
Indiana Pacers v Dallas Mavericks
Indiana Pacers v Dallas Mavericks / Tim Heitman/GettyImages

Hey, a good sign finally!

After two demoralizing losses on the road, one to the Pelicans by 27 points, and the other to the Spurs by 12 points, Tuesday's contest against the Dallas Mavericks felt like a must-win for Tyrese Haliburton and the Indiana Pacers. For Haliburton, this felt like more of a statement game than anything.

Ever since his return from hamstring strains in February, Haliburton has not been the same player, in the sense that he is more reluctant to shoot, less aggressive, and his confidence seems to have been rattled. While he may be close to back physically, the mental strain seemed to have taken a toll on him.

While Haliburton has struggled recently, his last four games before Tuesday were easily his worst stretch yet, as he averaged 9.5 points and 7.8 assists on putrid 26.5/15.4/80% shooting splits. In addition to that, in the previous week's matchup against the Pelicans, Haliburton was held scoreless for the second time in his NBA career and the first time in a Pacers uniform.

He followed that up with a slightly better performance against San Antonio, putting up 12 points and dishing out eight assists but on 4/16 from the field and 0/6 from beyond the arc. This slump led to many coming out of the woodshed and claiming that Haliburton was still injured and needed some time to re-adjust, which was very obvious, as Rick Carlisle even confirmed as much prior to the Mavericks game.

Thankfully, Tuesday would be a good night for Tyrese Haliburton and the Indiana Pacers. Continuing their series dominance from the matchup a couple of weeks ago, the Pacers essentially led wire-to-wire on Dallas, leading by as much as 20 points and outscoring the Mavs 32-18 in the third quarter to take charge.

You heard that right, the Indiana Pacers held a team with Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving to 18 points in a quarter. Indiana eventually held off a mini-run from Dallas in the fourth quarter to win the game 137-120, capping off a streak of two embarrassing losses with a blowout win against a playoff-contending team.

This game was special for multiple reasons. For one, the Pacers set a new record as nine players scored in double figures. Yes, nine. To show how much of a balanced offensive attack it was, Myles Turner, the Pacers leading scorer on the night, only scored 20 points.

His efforts were helped by Bennedict Mathurin's 19, Obi Toppin scoring 14, including a corner three with a hand in his face in the fourth quarter to give the Pacers even more momentum, T.J. McConnell and Pascal Siakam's 13 each, Ben Sheppard's 12, all three-pointers, Jalen Smith's 11, and Andrew Nembhard's 10 points on perfect 4/4 shooting.

Of course, I must be missing someone, or rather saving the best for last. Indeed, Tyrese Haliburton finally broke out of his brutal slump, finishing second on the team with 19 points on 8/15 shooting and dishing out 11 assists en route to perhaps his best game since the first game after the All-Star break, which was against the Detroit Pistons.

While Haliburton didn't shoot the best from deep, only shooting 3/10, the confidence was slowly returning to him. Thankfully, he regained most of that good faith by the end of the game, as his final shot was a three-pointer that Pacers fans were relieved to see go in. While the shooting still has a ways to go, Haliburton shooting 5/5 from two-point range was also promising. For the first time in what seemed like weeks, Haliburton finally felt comfortable driving to the rim and finishing among the trees.

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It may only be one game, and the Pacers may still be a full game out of the eighth seed, but this win certainly did wonders for Haliburton and the team's confidence. As Haliburton stated in his post-game interview, "It can't rain forever." Here's to hoping this resounding victory helps fire the Pacers up as they prepare for one of their biggest challenges yet, the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday.