Las Vegas, NV – There were a lot of skeptics, including myself, but the inaugural NBA In Season Tournament has been an overwhelming success.
There are definitely some things that need to be changed with it but for the most part, they sold the players, teams, media, and fans on the tournament and it will only get better from here. The games truly feel like it’s a playoff atmosphere with heightened intensity and that’s something that we weren’t getting for regular November and December games.
It all comes to an end this weekend in Vegas!
We have four really fun teams to watch so the games should all be good. First up, we have a midwest matchup between the Milwaukee Bucks and Indiana Pacers. Giannis Antetokounmpo is Giannis but the matchup that might catch a lot of people’s eyes is Tyrese Haliburton vs. Damian Lillard. They are two of the best PGs in the league and both have been on a tare lately.
It was kind of a weird start to the game. It started off looking like it was going to be whoever scored 120 first would be the winner of the game but then both teams just stopped hitting shots and it wasn’t credited to good defense. Neither team really played good defense but it wasn’t a high scoring quarter either with the Bucks taking a 29-27 lead into the second.
Tyrese Haliburton with a perfect bounce pass sets up Isaiah Jackson for the bucket + the foul 💪 pic.twitter.com/cwDuxVRt4Z
— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) December 7, 2023
The second quarter was very different. For the Pacers at least. They came out with a different kind of intensity on the defensive end and were able to push their lead to as many as 12. It could have been more but they didn’t really take the best shots and got a little too cute. The Bucks didn’t do themselves any favors either because they played a lot of one on one in the second. Particularly Dame who only hit two of his 10 shots in the half.
It looked like the Pacers were going to take full control of the game but the Bucks came out of the locker room with an all new mindset. They locked in on the defensive end with much better point of attack defense. Then, Dame started to actually hit shots along with Giannis continuing to be dominant.
The Bucks came back in the third and we went back to not seeing much defense as the teams went back and forth which made for a classic ending.
Giannis with a head of steam. 😤 pic.twitter.com/lRf2QpjCoa
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) December 8, 2023
And that it was.
They were going back and forth and it seemed like the first team to get multiple stops would win the game and that was the Pacers. They played pretty good defense when it mattered down the stretch. It was pretty much let Giannis be Giannis and try and stop everyone else which worked.
It also helped that Tyrese Haliburton was a STAR down the stretch and the Bucks had no answer for him at all. The Pacers were able to string together a few stops down the stretch to go along with Hali’s phenomenal play and it lifted them to a 128-119 victory to send them to the first ever NBA In Season Tournament Championship game.
The Pacers were led by Haliburton who had 27 points, 15 assists, and 7 rebounds which was his third game of the kind this season. Myles Turner was great with 26 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocks while Obi Toppin added 14 points and 6 rebounds.
They will take on the winner of the Lakers and Pelicans game on Saturday night.