Pacers Notes: Game 4, Haliburton, Nembhard, McConnell

The Pacers can’t stand the thought of watching another team celebrate an Eastern Conference title on their home court, writes Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. That will add to Indiana’s motivation for Monday’s game against the Celtics in the face of a seemingly insurmountable 3-0 deficit. Players and coaches understand they face long odds to win the series, but they’re focused on taking Game 4 to give themselves a chance.

“The important thing for us is to learn, to be resilient and stay in this fight and find a way to extend the series,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “We want to keep playing. We want to get back on that plane and go back to Boston.”

Even though Boston has won the first three games, it hasn’t been a one-sided series so far. Two critical turnovers late in Game 1 cost the Pacers a chance to win the series opener, and they led by eight points with 2:38 remaining in Game 3 before letting it slip away.

“There are a lot of correctable things that we’ve got to get better,” Carlisle said. “There are some mistakes defensively that are fixable and some things offensively that we have to do better. We did a lot of things very very well. We led for a great majority of the game. There certainly are positives. So we always show our guys things that need to be corrected but also always show our guys the things we do well and that we need to continue to do well.”

There’s more from Indiana:

  • Despite a weekend report that Tyrese Haliburton may miss the rest of the series due to an injured left hamstring, no decision has been announced on his status for tonight. Carlisle refused to provide an update on Haliburton when meeting with reporters on Sunday, Dopirak adds, but he said he’s comfortable with T.J. McConnell or Andrew Nembhard running the offense. “(Nembhard’s) played plenty of point guard for us,” Carlisle said. “There have been stretches when Ty’s been unable to play both last year and this year. He has experience there. Guys who put the work in and are prepared tend to have more confidence because they’ve done the work. He’s one of those guys, and our team really as a group, we have really conscientious guys who are great workers who love to compete.”
  • The Suns inquired about McConnell during the season, sources tell Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, but the Pacers weren’t – and aren’t – interested in moving their backup point guard. McConnell is a valuable member of Indiana’s bench, and he has one year left on a team-friendly contract that will pay him $9.3MM next season. “He’s one of the heartbeats of that team,” Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla said. “He just makes winning plays. He’s really good at the end of quarters, which is a way that teams can keep momentum, start momentum, chip away at momentum.”
  • Nembhard sparked the Pacers’ offense with 32 points and nine assists in Game 3, but he committed a costly turnover when Jrue Holiday took the ball from him with just under 10 seconds remaining (video link). Holiday slipped on the play, notes Khari Thompson of The Boston Globe, but he was able to recover in time to poke the ball out of Nembhard’s hands. “I tried to get a shot up and he got in front of me. I lost the ball, slipped, turnover,” Nembhard said.
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