NBA Playoffs: All-Star Ruled Out for Celtics-Pacers Game 3

Just when things couldn’t go any worse for the Indiana Pacers, they got the news that All-NBA point guard Tyrese Haliburton wouldn’t be available for Game 3 against the Boston Celtics. Indiana trails the Celtics 2-0 in the series after losing both games on the road, and with its best player shelved, it sure feels like the Eastern Conference Finals may be short-lived. Haliburton left Game 2 against Boston early on with a hamstring injury and didn’t return.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN was first with the news:

Indiana, the East’s No. 6 seed, entered the series against Boston as heavy underdogs anyway. Without the services of Haliburton, it may be near impossible for them to take down the Celtics. Haliburton has been the engine for this Pacers team all season and his absence will be felt heavily. On the year, he has averaged 20.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 10.9 assists per game. He helps facilitate the Indiana offense so his playmaking ability will be missed terribly.

The hope for the Pacers will be that the Celtics play down to the competition in Game 3 and that Indiana’s own home crowd can help propel them forward. The Pacers haven’t lost at home during their playoff run yet, so they are hoping for more of the same. Other guys such as Myles Turner and Pascal Siakam will need to step up in a massive way for Indiana to steal Game 3.

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – MAY 21: Tyrese Haliburton #0 of the Indiana Pacers fouls Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics during overtime in Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals at TD Garden on May…

Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

This marks another in a long line of injuries that have occurred during the NBA playoffs this year, with Boston taking on multiple teams that have suffered them. The Celtics played an undermanned Miami Heat team in the first round without star Jimmy Butler. They then faced the Cleveland Cavaliers without Donovan Mitchell in two of the five games for their second round series. It’s not the fault of Boston as the club can only play who is in front of them, but this injury to Haliburton essentially gives them a cakewalk to the NBA Finals.

If the Pacers can find a way to take Game 3, it would set up an interesting discussion entering Game 4. As Woj goes on to ominously note, Haliburton likely won’t play the rest of the series as he missed 10 games earlier in the year following a hamstring strain on the same leg. Ironically, it happened also against the Celtics. Indiana went 6-4 without Haliburton, but the team has no room for error in the playoffs.

Indiana put up a great fight in Game 1, almost stealing home court away from the Celtics. But heading back home down 0-2, without Haliburton, the odds are heavily stacked against the Pacers to continue their surprising run. Boston has been the best team all season and it was always going to take a mammoth effort from the Pacers to even make this a series.