Sunday, May 26, 2024

Tyrese Haliburton’s Buzzer-Beater Stuns Bucks, Pacers Take Commanding 2-1 Series Lead

HomeSports NewsTyrese Haliburton's Buzzer-Beater Stuns Bucks, Pacers Take Commanding 2-1 Series Lead

INDIANAPOLIS – In a pulsating overtime showdown that had the raucous Gainbridge Fieldhouse crowd utterly enthralled, Tyrese Haliburton etched his name into Indiana Pacers playoff lore with a cold-blooded three-point play in the dying seconds to topple the Milwaukee Bucks 121-118. The Pacers now hold a 2-1 lead in this riveting best-of-seven series slugfest, with Game 4 looming Sunday in the heart of Indianapolis.

While Haliburton’s shooting touch deserted him for much of the night (8-of-22 FGs, 1-of-12 3PTs), the precocious All-Star masterfully threaded the needle, dishing out 16 dimes to go with his 18 points and 10 boards for his first career postseason triple-double. When it mattered most though, Haliburton wanted that rock in his molten mitts.

“You know I was going to shoot it no matter what,” Haliburton said, his eyes afire. “Khris pushed up Pascal to force Patrick under, and as soon as I saw Patrick turn his head, I pounced. Everything just opened up like the parting of the seas across the middle.”

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In a grandstand finish that had the fans whipped into an absolute frenzy, the lead swapped hands like a hot potato down the back-nine of regulation and throughout the bonus period. The Pacers looked to have it salted, up 109-106 with just 19.1 ticks left after Siakam’s putback, but he split the ensuing pair at the stripe to provide a sliver of hope.

Ever the consummate pro, Bucks stalwart Khris Middleton coolly stroked a midrange J, then cashed a triple with 1.4 seconds on the clock to improbably force overtime at 109-109. In the bonus period, Middleton stayed scorching, banking home another trey to knot it at 118 with just 6.7 seconds remaining to set up Haliburton’s ice-cold dagger.

Myles Turner was an absolute titan for the Pacers, torching the Bucks for playoff career-highs of 29 points and 9 boards. His relentless interior presence, coupled with Haliburton’s wizardry orchestrating from the perimeter, proved too hot to handle for the severely shorthanded Bucks.

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With two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo sidelined for a third straight game by a strained left calf, Milwaukee leaned heavily on the brilliance of Middleton and Damian Lillard. Middleton was simply sensational, pouring in a playoff career-high 42 points while corralling 10 rebounds and dropping 5 dimes. Lillard chipped in 28 points and 8 assists, though his excellence was tempered by a nagging left knee injury suffered in the first period and an aggravated Achilles issue down the stretch.

The rip-roaring contest unfolded amidst a seismic atmosphere befitting the stakes, as the Pacers faithful ravenously welcomed postseason hoops back to Indy after a three-year hiatus. Local sports royalty including Indiana Fever rookie Caitlin Clark, former Colts coach Tony Dungy, and current Colts players Anthony Richardson, Kenny Moore II and E.J. Speed were among those savoring the rawboned intensity.

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“It was a wild, bodacious game and that overtime was just bonkers – what more could you ask for?” Haliburton raved. “The atmosphere was absolutely electric.”

For the undermanned Bucks, the gut-wrenching loss compounds their mounting injury crisis as they now stare up at a 2-1 series deficit. The Pacers, conversely, find themselves in wholly uncharted waters, holding a playoff series advantage for the first time since dispatching Cleveland in the 2018 opening round.

With the series shifting back to Indianapolis for Sunday’s Game 4 tilt, the Pacers will look to harness the deafening energy of their home faithful and inch closer to their first playoff series triumph since the 2014 Eastern Conference Finals. Emboldened by Haliburton’s cold-blooded killer instinct and Turner’s menacing interior prowess, this plucky Indiana outfit is daring to dream big once more.

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Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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