Tyrese Haliburton can't be stopped.
The Indiana Pacers, thanks to a late run and another impressive showing from Haliburton, edged out the Milwaukee Bucks 128-119 on Thursday afternoon in their semifinals game of the NBA’s in-season tournament. The win at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas officially sends them into the championship game on Saturday, where they'll get a chance to compete for the first ever NBA cup.
Haliburton dropped 27 points and had 15 assists in the win while shooting 11-of-19 from the field for the Pacers. The former Iowa State star, after dropping 13 assists in their quarterfinals win over the Boston Celtics, has now recorded 28 assists without a single turnover over the past two games.
After an offensive outburst to make it to Las Vegas, which was powered by Haliburton's first career triple-double, the Pacers jumped up early again on Thursday night. They took a 12-point lead at halftime while largely shutting down the Bucks' offense outside of Giannis Antetokounmpo. Myles Turner had 16 of his 26 points in the first half, and Damian Lillard was held to just four points in the first half for Milwaukee.
Yet it was the third quarter where the Bucks finally flew ahead and took control of the game. They opened the second half on a 27-9 tear. Lillard dropped 14 of his 24 points during that stretch, which briefly had Milwaukee on pace to put up 50 points in the quarter.
The Bucks took a three-point lead into the fourth quarter, and held Indiana to just 2-of-11 from the 3-point line in the third quarter alone.
The Pacers hung around early in the fourth quarter, however, and briefly took the lead after a wild Obi Toppin long-range reverse lob.
Though the two teams hung around each other for most of the period, Haliburton finally pushed the Pacers ahead in the final two minutes. After hitting a clutch layup, Haliburton rebounded his own 3-point miss and drilled a step-back contested bucket from behind the arc over Brook Lopez. That gave the Pacers an eight-point lead in the final minute and sealed the nine-point win.
Turner added 26 points and 10 rebounds to Haliburton's 27 points in the win for Indiana. Toppin finished with 14 points. The Pacers shot just shy of 50% from the field and still got the win despite shooting 7-of-33 from behind the arc.
Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 37 points and 10 rebounds. Lillard added 24 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, and Khris Middleton finished with 20 points.
With the win, the Pacers will now take on either the Los Angeles Lakers or New Orleans Pelicans in the in-season tournament championship on Saturday night. The Lakers and Pelicans will square off in their semifinals game later on Thursday.
This post will be updated with more information shortly.