All-Star guard Tyrese Haliburton has recorded the first triple-double of his career and completed a tiebreaking four-point play with 1:33 left as Indiana ousted Boston from the NBA In-Season Tournament with a 122-112 quarter-final victory.
Haliburton finished with 26 points, 16 in the second half, to go with 13 assists and 10 rebounds on Monday night (Tuesday AEDT). Myles Turner added 17 points and 10 rebounds, and seven Pacers finished in double figures as Indiana remained unbeaten in the tournament after finishing group play with a 4-0 mark.
The Pacers will face the Milwaukee Bucks or New York Knicks in Thursday’s semi-finals at Las Vegas.
The Celtics were led by Jayson Tatum’s 32 points and 12 rebounds, while Jaylen Brown had 30 points and nine boards. All-Star Kristaps Porzingis missed his fourth straight game with a strained left calf as Boston’s three-game winning streak ended thanks to a late 9-0 run, which began with Haliburton’s basket.
Indiana changed the game in the third quarter, charging back from a 56-48 halftime deficit to tie the score at 71 before pulling out to an 85-74 lead.
The Celtics finally tied the score at 94 on Brown’s three-pointer with 6:07 to go and there were six more ties before Haliburton drew a foul on his 27-foot rainbow jumper.
For the Pacers, this was a new experience. From the towel-waving crowd chanting “De-fence!” to the heavy media presence, single-elimination stakes and festive atmosphere, this was as close to playoff basketball as many of the players on Indiana’s young roster had ever experienced. Even Haliburton and three-point specialist Buddy Hield have not yet played a post-season game.
On the court, it was different, too.
In this season’s first matchup on November 1, Boston blew out Indiana 155-104 — the second-most points scored by the Celtics in franchise history.
In the other semi-final, New Orleans travelled to Sacramento and the Pelicans continued the trend of upsets with a 127-117 triumph.
Zion Williamson was kept quiet with 10 points but Brandon Ingram (30) and defensive specialist Herb Jones (23) stepped up to send Kings fans away disappointed.