Khris Middleton put on a vintage performance in Game 3 of the Milwaukee Bucks’ Eastern Conference first round match-up versus the Indiana Pacers that had them on the cusp of victory and a 2-1 lead in the series.

The 32-year-old forward scored the last seven points for the Bucks, including a tough three-pointer with two seconds left in regulation, to force overtime. He continued his heroics in the extra period where he scored seven more points. Middleton banked in another difficult three-pointer with eight seconds remaining in overtime to tie the game at 118, but that proved to be his last basket of the game.

This was supposed to be the three-time NBA All-Star’s night–a throwback performance that reminded the world of his caliber after injuries slowed him down for most of the last two seasons–yet Tyrese Haliburton and the Pacers found a way to steal the show.


On the ensuing possession following Middleton’s bank shot, Haliburton received the midcourt inbound pass in the backcourt then proceeded to zoom towards the basket. He caught Milwaukee’s Patrick Beverley off guard with a couple of crossovers which opened up the lane for him to take a floater that found the bottom of the net with 1.6 seconds left to play.

Beverley tried to recover and block Haliburton’s shot from behind, however he was too late and instead committed a foul that led to a three-point play. Haliburton then made the ensuing free throw to give Indiana a three-point lead, 121-118. Middleton had one last chance to tie the game for the Bucks with another contested three-pointer before the buzzer, but his shot came up short as time expired.

Middleton scored 42 points, his highest total in a game in over two years, yet Haliburton’s clutch play ultimately overshadowed him as it was the Pacers who instead came away with a win and a 2-1 lead in this series. Haliburton had a fine performance too, becoming just the fourth player in franchise history to record a triple double as he put up 18 points, 10 rebounds, and 16 assists. He also set a team-high in terms of +/- at +16 despite a poor shooting night that saw him shoot a mere eight-of-22 from the field and one-of-12 on three-point attempts.

It is clear that when Haliburton puts on an all-around performance such as this one, this Indiana team is difficult to stop regardless of what his shooting percentages are. With the exception of Pascal Siakam, this team is filled with players who are strong finishers and capable shooters, but need Haliburton’s playmaking in order for them to maximize their abilities. The solid performances of Myles Turner (29 points), Andrew Nembhard (16), Obi Toppin (15), and Aaron Nesmith (13) are proof of Haliburton’s impact and the Pacers will need this to continue if they are to win this series.

Indiana is now just two wins away from advancing to the second round of the postseason for the first time since 2014. This team may not be regarded as a bona fide contender at the moment, but their ability to put points on the board in a hurry makes them a difficult match-up for any team as they have the tools to pull off a surprise on any given night. The emergence of this Pacers team has been one of the most pleasant surprises of this NBA season and with the way that they have carried themselves in these playoffs so far, it would not come as a shock if they have a few more tricks up their sleeves over these next few weeks.