Summer 2024

Pacers star Tyrese Haliburton advances to 1st NBA postseason as his 'faith has grown a lot'

As the NBA’s play-in games play out this week to determine the final two playoff seeds in each conference, the Indiana Pacers and star Tyrese Haliburton will be resting, watching and preparing for what they hope will be a lengthy playoff run.

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As the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference with a 47-35 regular-season record after a late-season surge, the Pacers avoided the play-in games and are set to face the No. 3-seeded Milwaukee Bucks (49-33) in a best-of-seven first-round series. Game 1 is on Sunday in Milwaukee at 7 p.m ET.

The Pacers haven’t made the playoffs since the 2019-20 season, haven’t won a playoff series since 2013-14, and haven’t reached the NBA Finals since 1999-00. They haven’t won a championship since they were in the ABA. Haliburton, a 24-year-old point guard and a rising star in the league, will be making his playoff debut.

“Just really excited,” Haliburton said in a press conference at the conclusion of the regular season. “We all grow up big basketball fans, watching the playoffs and watching our favorite players have big moments, and now for me to be able to get that opportunity, I’m just really excited.”

A major factor in Indiana’s success this season has been the continued emergence of Haliburton. The Pacers acquired him in a midseason trade with the Sacramento Kings in February 2022, and it’s worked out quite well. Haliburton has been an All-Star in each of his two full seasons in Indiana, and on Wednesday he was officially added to Team USA for the upcoming Paris Olympics.

This season, he led the NBA in assists per game (10.9), which included a franchise-record-tying 23-assist game on Dec. 30. His 752 assists on the season are the most in franchise history. He’s also averaged an impressive 20.1 points and 3.9 rebounds per game this year.

But according to Pacers coach Rick Carlisle, Haliburton is not all about his stats.

“Tyrese Haliburton is defined by winning, not by scoring,” he said last week, according to “He’s defined by what a great teammate he is and by how he helps his teammates win games.”

Haliburton knows his job as the point guard is to make his teammates better.

“I view that as a big responsibility,” he told in February. “I feel like I have the power to help other guys succeed because I have the ball. Empower him to make shots, empower him to move on from mistakes. But I also feel like I have the power to take that away if I’m letting my emotions get the best of me or I’m frustrated. For me, the biggest thing was learning how to lead the right way.”

The Oshkosh, Wisconsin, native has developed as a player each season since he was drafted No. 12 overall by the Kings out of Iowa State in 2020. (Though drafted much higher, Haliburton’s enjoyed a rise similar to that of his college friend Brock Purdy.) But, something far more important than just his basketball acumen has been developing in the NBA as well.

“My faith has grown a lot over the last year or two,” he told “Growing up we didn’t go to church a lot, but we understood God’s place in our lives. Now that I’m an adult I guess — I own a house now and live on my own — I go to church on Sunday every chance I can. I go to chapel before games.”

Haliburton’s X bio reads, “To Him be the glory forever,” and he occasionally posts about his faith on the social media site.

Haliburton’s parents, John and Brenda, are proud of their son — the player he’s become on the court and the man he’s become off of it.

“Tyrese is humble and very blessed,” John told Andscape last December. “We give God the praise and the glory. Tyrese is nothing without the mercy of God. He knows how to handle it. He knows where he comes from.”

Now, Tyrese will seek to continue to rest in the goodness of God as he and his Pacers teammates seek to take down the Bucks, who will begin the series on Sunday without two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.

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