In the dying seconds of Game 3 between the Indiana Pacers and the New York Knicks, Tyrese Haliburton found himself with the ball in his hands isolated against Isaiah Hartenstein.

The game was tied at 106 after Jalen Brunson hit a clutch three-pointer on the previous possession and it was imperative that the Pacers scored on this possession.

Haliburton was in the perfect position to score as he went up against the Knicks’ starting center, that is if he did not roll his ankle a few minutes earlier. He stayed in the game in spite of the injury, but was visibly bothered by it as he was no longer able to blow past his defenders from then on out.


Despite Haliburton’s hobbled state, Miles McBride went over to double team him as he began his attack on Hartenstein. After reading the situation, Haliburton passed out of the double team to Andrew Nembhard with less than five seconds remaining on the shot clock and 21.8 left in the game.

The 24-year-old Nembhard was in a tough spot. Not only was the game on the line, but a loss would have put Indiana in a 3-0 hole in this series. He was unfazed though and dribbled the ball between his legs a couple of times before uncorking a long step-back three-pointer.

The ball seemed to float in the air for an eternity until it went straight through the net as the Pacers’ shot clock expired.

Nembhard’s shot gave Indiana a 109-106 lead with 18 seconds left in the game and that turned out to be the basket of the evening. Brunson missed a tough three-pointer on the ensuing possession then Aaron Nesmith hit two free throws on the other end that ultimately sealed the 111-106 win for the Pacers.

Haliburton led the way for Indiana in the box score with 35 points on 14-of-26 shooting, six three-pointers four rebounds, seven assists, two steals, and a block, yet his untimely injury led to another quiet fourth quarter from him. Pascal Siakam added 26 points, seven rebounds, and a block while Myles Turner chipped in with 21 points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks.

The sophomore Nembhard finished with only five points, but his two made baskets could not have come at a better time for Indiana. His other field goal aside from his go-ahead three-pointer was a timely lay-up with 1:55 left in the match which gave the Pacers a 104-102 lead. He also recorded five rebounds and six assists in addition to playing commendable defense on Brunson for most of the night.

The poor offensive execution of Indiana in the half court haunted them once again late in Game 3, although Nembhard’s timely heroics helped them eke out the win. If they are to come back and win this best-of-seven duel, head coach Rick Carlisle will have to figure out how to reignite their stagnant late game offense which will be a tall task if Haliburton’s injuries–which includes a hamstring strain that has been lingering since January–continue to bog him down.

Nonetheless, this win was a much-needed one for Indiana and they must come out of the gates with the same intensity come Game 4. Nembhard proved to be the team’s unlikely hero in Game 3 and the Pacers will need more heroics from him and the rest of their supporting cast if they are to tie this series at 2-2 before heading back to New York.