Pacers, possibly sans star, bank on home court vs. Celtics in Game 3

Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton (0) reacts against the Boston Celtics in the first half during Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Thursday at TD Garden in Boston. Haliburton's status is in question for Game 3 with a hamstring injury. (David Butler II/USA TODAY)

The Indiana Pacers have an unblemished 6-0 home record during the NBA playoffs, but another obstacle has emerged.

Not only do the Pacers trail the Boston Celtics 2-0 in the Eastern Conference finals, but Indiana is unlikely to have the services of star point guard Tyrese Haliburton for Saturday’s pivotal Game 3 in Indianapolis.


Haliburton injured his left hamstring during the second quarter of Thursday’s 126-110 loss in Game 2 and exited for good late in the third quarter.

The Pacers hope to have the All-NBA third-team selection but they also are being realistic. Haliburton suffered a similar injury earlier this season — Jan. 8, also against Boston — and missed 10 of the next 11 games. Indiana went 6-4 without him.

The stakes are certainly higher now with the Pacers hoping to avoid a 3-0 deficit.

“That’s a time for this group for everyone to step up and take a bigger role,” Indiana guard T.J. McConnell said of the possibility of his squad being without Haliburton.

“We’ve done a good job of that when he’s been out. It hurts when he goes down, but one of those things where it’s the ‘next man up’ mentality. Obviously, we’ll see.”

Haliburton had 25 points and 10 assists when the Pacers put up a huge fight in Game 1 before falling 133-128 in overtime. He had 10 points and eight assists in Game 2 when Boston’s Jaylen Brown stole the show by matching his personal playoff career best of 40 points.

Despite the 2-0 hole and the possibility that their top player could be done for the series, the Pacers point to their home-court advantage as the reason they can still win the seven-game set.

Indiana has won 11 straight at home dating to a regular-season loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on March 18.

“I think we have the guys to understand how hard it is to win, and we know that we can bounce back,” Pascal Siakam said. “We’ve done it all year, and it’s time to dig deep and just go out there and compete at the highest level in front of our fans.”

Brown was certainly competing at a high level when he made four 3-pointers and was 14 of 27 from the field in Game 2.

His big outing came one night after he was snubbed when the All-NBA team was announced. Brown had been a second-team pick in 2022-23 but didn’t get a spot this season.

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