Pacers aim to continue offensive surge vs. Rockets

Field Level Media
We may earn a commission from links on this page.
Mar 6, 2023; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton (0) reacts to a call  in the second half against the Philadelphia 76ers at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
Mar 6, 2023; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton (0) reacts to a call in the second half against the Philadelphia 76ers at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
Image: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The season-long statistics don't reflect the offensive might flexed by the Indiana Pacers as of late, particularly since the season resumed following the All-Star break last month.

As a whole, Indiana is middling on offense, as it ranked 18th in offensive rating ahead of Tuesday's NBA slate. But in the six games since the All-Star break, the Pacers have averaged 125 points per game, fourth in the NBA during that span behind only the Sacramento Kings, Los Angeles Clippers and Dallas Mavericks.


There is a myriad of reasons why the Pacers, who will host the Houston Rockets on Thursday in Indianapolis, have excelled offensively over the past two weeks. But the most apparent is the play of first-time All-Star guard Tyrese Haliburton, who has somehow advanced on the stardom he cultivated before the break.

Haliburton is averaging 27.6 points -- on 57.1 percent shooting -- and 12.2 assists since the All-Star Game. He paired a season-high 16 assists with 40 points in a wild 147-143 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday in what was one of the best games of his career.


Pacers coach Rick Carlisle lauded the performance of his team against the 76ers, but any acknowledgment of how well Indiana is playing on offense starts with Haliburton.

"He's a great young player," Carlisle said. "Very vibrant, very skilled (with) great leadership. Getting better all the time. A franchise pillar, obviously, and he's changed everything with this organization.

"He's changed the entire vibe of it. He's changed the atmosphere day to day in the locker room. (He's changed) the way people view Indiana Pacers basketball, and he loves the challenge. He loves the responsibility of the challenge of being the leader on the court. Nothing but props to him, and he's nowhere reached the ceiling as a player."

The Rockets can only hope that second-year guard Jalen Green takes a leap similar to the one Haliburton has in his third season in the NBA. Green turned 21 last month, so his bouts with inconsistency are easily understood.


After scoring 31 points on 11-of-19 shooting in a 142-110 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday, Green missed 6 of 7 3-pointers while shooting 42.9 percent overall in a 25-point effort against the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday. He hasn't shot at least 50 percent in back-to-back games since late December when he averaged 26 points on 54.1 percent shooting against the Bulls and Celtics.

Those issues with inconsistency don't all rest with Green. The Rockets rank last in the NBA in 3-point percentage at 32.7 as of Tuesday, and their inability to even threaten opponents from beyond the arc often clogs the paint for Green, whose prolific ability to penetrate is thwarted by opposing traffic.


Superior perimeter shooting would enable Green to do what he does best at this nascent stage of his career. Until the Rockets unearth it, Green will continue to have nights where the shots are difficult to convert against defenses designed to cloud his view of the rim.

"It becomes very difficult. That's where some of your turnovers come," Rockets coach Stephen Silas said. "A lot of the turnovers we had were interior passes where (defenders) are not up on their men on the perimeter so there's less space. It makes a big difference."


--Field Level Media