The Brilliance and Challenges of Playing with Tyrese Haliburton

As Pascal Siakam observed Tyrese Haliburton execute his latest game-changing move, the thought that raced through Siakam’s mind was simple yet significant. With a chuckle, Siakam told ESPN inside the visiting locker room at Madison Square Garden after Indiana’s 125-111 triumph over the New York Knicks, “Just make it.” Siakam’s wish came true as he nailed a corner three-pointer, prompting a timeout from Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau and extending the Pacers’ lead by eight. It was an outstanding performance for Indiana, shooting a remarkable 61 percent from the field and hitting 14 of their 29 shots from beyond the arc, securing their third victory in four games. Amidst all the highlights, however, there was one play that captured everyone’s attention.

“One characteristic that all great players have is resourcefulness and the ability, in a split second, to invent something special,” praised Pacers coach Rick Carlisle. “And he did just that.” Haliburton’s incredible pass off the backboard to himself and then flawlessly dishing it out to his teammate showcased his inventiveness. Carlisle acknowledged the play’s immense impact, stating, “That’s a play that created momentum for us. And, if for some reason that possession was unsuccessful, it could have created a lot of momentum for the Knicks. The only word I can really say is just, it’s just special … just special stuff.”

Haliburton’s Night to Remember

For Tyrese Haliburton, it was a memorable night on various fronts. Earning his first victory at the iconic Madison Square Garden, the rookie guard was eager to share his achievement with everyone, including the locker room attendants. Additionally, it marked his first game playing at least 30 minutes since his recent return from a hamstring injury that had plagued him for the past month. To top it off, he showcased a signature move that had been on his mind since the first half but finally found the opportunity to execute it in the third quarter. Haliburton expressed his enthusiasm, saying, “I’ve never done that before.” With a grin, he added, “You see so many guys in the NBA trying [to make plays off the backboard]. I was gonna try it in the first half, a little off the right slot, but it was kind of a weird angle. In transition, it just felt like there was a lot of room in the paint. So, yeah, just playing basketball, having fun.”

The Joy of Playing with Haliburton

Playing alongside Haliburton is an exhilarating experience, as the Pacers have witnessed throughout the season. Haliburton guided the team to the championship game of the in-season tournament and currently has them sitting in sixth place in the Eastern Conference. However, Indiana faces a tight race in the standings, with only a one-game lead over the eighth-place Miami Heat, tied in the loss column. One contributing factor to this competition is Haliburton’s nagging hamstring injury, which has limited his time playing alongside Pascal Siakam, the team’s newly acquired star from the Toronto Raptors. Siakam has seamlessly transitioned into his role as Indiana’s second option, delivering 19 points, six rebounds, and three assists against the Knicks. The game against the Knicks marked the eighth time that Siakam and Haliburton took the court together since the trade, but Haliburton’s minutes have been restricted due to his injury. Siakam acknowledged the challenge of adapting to Haliburton’s level of creativity, emphasizing their need to understand each other’s rhythms on the court.

Siakam admits to moments of confusion as he tries to anticipate Haliburton’s moves, recounting instances where he would be looking for a pass only for Haliburton to deceive him with an unexpected play. Siakam recognizes the importance of being prepared at all times and emphasizes the necessity for both players to develop a rhythm that complements each other’s style of play. This dynamic partnership holds immense potential for the Pacers, as Haliburton’s resourcefulness and Siakam’s skillset can elevate the team’s performance to new heights.

Tyrese Haliburton’s inventive playmaking and contagious enthusiasm have propelled the Indiana Pacers forward. While the road to developing a seamless partnership with Pascal Siakam has its challenges, both players acknowledge the need for communication and a deeper understanding of each other’s playing style. As the Pacers continue their push for a higher standing in the Eastern Conference, the brilliance of playing with Haliburton is intertwined with the dedication and effort required to unlock their full potential.


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