Listen Live
Indiana Pacers v Milwaukee Bucks: Semifinals - 2023 NBA In-Season Tournament

Source: Ethan Miller / Getty

LAS VEGAS — The narrative all tournament long from national pundits has been that the Indiana Pacers “are not supposed to be here.” They are here and they are making noise.

Led by 27 points from Tyrese Haliburton and another 26 from Myles Turner, the Pacers defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 128-119 in Thursday’s NBA Cup semifinals.

“A lot of people didn’t want us here,” head coach Rick Carlisle said after the game. “We don’t care about that. We earned our way here. We earned our way to three additional national TV games. So people are going to find out about the Pacers!”

Trading baskets in the first half, the Pacers set their tone late in the 1st quarter, not from their starters but from their bench.

TJ McConnell came on as Tyrese Haliburton came out for a planned rotation by head coach Rick Carlisle. McConnell would go on a scoring and assist spree with the help of Isaiah Jackson and Benedict Mathurin to propel the Pacers to a 40-34 lead midway through the second quarter.

Refreshed, Haliburton came back in as the Pacers held the lead over a flummoxed Bucks squad. He and Turner led a long Pacers run over the final five minutes of the 1st half to give Indiana a 12-point 63-51 lead at halftime.

Milwaukee made adjustments in the second half — switching to a zone defense and going on a 9-0 run at one point early in the 3rd quarter to cut the Pacers lead down to one at 67-66.

“We played them earlier this year,” Haliburton said. “It was the same situation. We were up 20. They come out in the second and go zone. We knew they were going to have to go zone against us at some point.”

Even so, the Pacers’ aggressiveness in transition kept the game from getting too out of hand despite the resurgence of the Bucks with Giannis Antetokounmpo finding his stride. He would finish the night with 37 points.

The Pacers had to play most of the 3rd quarter from behind, the Bucks got out to a lead of as much as six points 78-72 with 5:50 left to play in the quarter.

Andrew Nembhard and Isaiah Jackson fueled a small rally for the Pacers to keep the Bucks within arms-length. At the end of the 3rd, the Pacers trailed 94-91 thanks to a late three-pointer from Aaron Nesmith.

Mathurin and McConnell gave the Pacers even more steam entering the 4th cutting the Bucks lead to 1. But, it would be rookie Obi Toppin to give the lead back to the Pacers with a thunderous transition dunk fed by Haliburton.

Trading the lead a couple more times, the Pacers secure the lead for good with seven minutes left in the 4th. A stepback three-point shot by Haliburton inside a minute to go would seal the deal as the Pacers made their subsequent free throws to secure the 128-119 win.

“We just have to compete,” said Haliburton. “We are just coming out to compete and be ready.”

Haliburton finished with a double-double of 27 pts and 15 assists. Turner had a double-double of his own with 26 pts and 10 rebounds. It’s also the first game this season the Pacers have won without making at least 10 three-point shots. They only had six on the night.

The Pacers will face either the Lakers or the Pelicans in the NBA Cup Final on Saturday.



Indiana          27    36    28    37    —    128

Milwaukee    29    22    43    25    —    119

IND: Haliburton (27, 11-19), Turner (26, 9-18), Toppin (14, 6-8), Jackson (11, 5-7), Brown (10, 3-9), McConnell (9, 4-7), Mathurin (9, 3-12)

MIL: Antetokounmpo (37,13-19), Lillard (24, 7-20), Middleton (20, 7-13), Beasley (7, 3-9)