Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton made yet another case for In-Season Tournament MVP (and maybe regular-season MVP) with a brilliant performance in his team's 128-119 semifinal win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday in Las Vegas. The Pacers advance to Saturday's final, where they will meet the winner of the matchup between the Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans.
Haliburton was electric all game long, putting up 27 points, 15 assists, seven rebounds with zero turnovers on 11-for-19 shooting. He was once again Indiana's go-to scorer and playmaker in the clutch, as his step-back 3-pointer over Bucks center Brook Lopez with just under a minute remaining sealed the win.
After making the shot, Haliburton looked toward his wrist, an apparent homage to Bucks guard Damian Lillard's famous "Dame Time" celebration he generally goes to after big shots in the clutch.
"Y'all know what time it is," Haliburton said to the T-Mobile Arena crowd after the dagger, before pointing to his chest.
"I learned as a kid, when you dish it out, you've got to be willing to take it," Lillard said of Haliburton's celebration after the game. "For as many times as I've done it to people, I can't be upset when somebody else does it. ... I think that's also a sign of respect and acknowledgment for knowing my history and knowing what I do.
"I didn't mind it. It was what it was. ... I respected it. We shook hands after the game. I wasn't moved by it left or right."
Haliburton has been phenomenal all season, but he's taken his game to another level in the In-Season Tournament knockout rounds. The 6-5 Iowa State product totaled 53 points, 28 assists and 17 rebounds combined during Thursday's semifinal win and in Monday's quarterfinal victory over the Boston Celtics. He did all of that without committing a single turnover.
In 10 clutch games this season (within five points with five minutes remaining), Haliburton is one of the league's best performers, shooting 73% with the outcome in the balance. Lillard, for his own part, has been excellent -- tied for the NBA lead with 6.1 clutch points per game on 50/41/97 shooting splits.
While both players are outstanding clutch performers, Thursday was Haliburton's moment to shine. You can't blame him for letting Lillard, Las Vegas, and everyone watching at home know exactly what time it was.