The Eastern Conference Finals shifts to Indianapolis with the underdog Indiana Pacers stuck in an 0-2 hole. The Boston Celtics excised series-opening demons to put together their best offensive performance of the playoffs in Game 2, racking up a 134.0 offensive rating en route to blowout victory. Tyrese Haliburton's status is in doubt for Game 3, too, after the Pacers star left Thursday's contest with what the team deemed “left leg soreness”—later confirmed by Rick Carlisle to be a recurrence of the hamstring injury that sidelined him in January.

Needless to say, Indiana isn't exactly in prime position to pull off what would be a historic upset and advance to the NBA Finals. The Celtics looked as comfortable as they have all postseason in Game 2, and the Pacers just aren't the same offensive juggernaut when Haliburton is relegated to playing through injury, let alone watching from the bench.

Rest assured that Indiana will take the floor for Game 3 with supreme confidence regardless, though. Why? A return to the friendly confines of Gainsbridge Fieldhouse, where the Pacers haven't lost since all the way back on March 18th.

Asked after Thursday's game what it means for Indiana to return home for Saturday's crucial contest, Carlisle predicted his team's home arena would be “as loud and as live as it's ever been.”

“In the New York series we were down 0-2 and came home, and were able to win Game 3 and then move along and do what we wanted to do. For us right now, we’ve gotta concentrate on getting back as quickly as we can tonight and preparing ourselves for our best possible effort on Saturday nigh,” he said. “I know that our building will be as loud and live as it’s ever been. It’s race weekend and everything else going on, so we gotta take advantage of that. It doesn’t guarantee anything, but it will be a better environment for us than playing here for sure.”

Rick Carlisle addresses Tyrese Haliburton's injury

Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton (0) reacts during the third quarter of game seven of the second round of the 2024 NBA playoffs against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Haliburton could be seen by reporters grimacing and slamming the ball on the TD Garden floor in frustration as the Pacers warmed up out of the halftime locker room. He was noticeably limited once the second half began, remaining a frequent and easy target for Boston's offense before tweaking his left leg a few minutes before the final stanza, exiting for good with 3:44 left in the third quarter. The Pacers announced he wouldn't return shortly thereafter.

On the postgame podium, Carlisle acknowledged that Haliburton underwent treatment for a left hamstring injury at halftime.

“He came out and gave it a shot (in the third quarter), was giving all the effort that he could,” Carlise said of Haliburton, per Dustin Dopirak of the Indy Star. “I haven't talked to him about it directly so I can't read minds, but it wasn't going well. The trainers determined he needed to go to the back and get worked on and he was ruled out.”

The veteran coach offered few details on Haliburton's injury otherwise, even electing against directly connecting this latest hamstring issue to his prevailing one.,

“It's the left hamstring and I believe that's the same hamstring as before,” Carlisle said. “It's sore. I know there's HIPPA laws and stuff like that. I guess I can safely say it's sore. … I know you want details. I don't have much other than it's sore.”

Indiana went 6-7 without Haliburton during the regular season, including a 3-2 mark after acquiring Pascal Siakam. The Pacers' postseason offensive rating with Haliburton on the floor is 121.8, compared to 112.3 when he sits, per

If he is unable to play in Game 3, expect TJ McConnell to start in Haliburton's place, with Andrew Nembhard and Ben Sheppard also shouldering heavier loads for Indiana.