Photo Courtesy of Benny Sieu/USA Today Sports
The NBA In-Season Tournament began its knockout round on Monday, and already, there have been some surprises. The Indiana Pacers defeated the Boston Celtics to advance to the semifinals. The New Orleans Pelicans defeated the Sacramento Kings and are also headed to the (West) semifinals.
Their opponents will be determined by the end of Tuesday night, as the Milwaukee Bucks are taking on the New York Knicks and the Los Angeles Lakers are taking on the Phoenix Suns.
Since the beginning of the tournament, there has been some strong play from players. And as the tournament pivots from group play to the knockout rounds, some players will continue to play at a high level. Here are a few players to keep an eye on during the In-Season Tournament semifinals.
1.) Tyrese Haliburton
The Indiana Pacers are making noise in this tournament. They won their group (which included the Cleveland Cavaliers, Philadelphia 76ers, the Atlanta Hawks and the Detroit Pistons) by going undefeated. The Pacers automatically advanced to the next round, and after defeating the Boston Celtics, their tournament journey continues.
Tyrese Haliburton has been a key player in the Pacers’ tournament success. He averaged around 28.5 points, and 13.5 assists during the group play, and shot 49 percent in the process.
In the win over the Celtics, Haliburton had a triple-double. He finished with 26 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds. Halliburton is on a mission and if Indiana does win the tournament, he will be a big factor.
2.) Brandon Ingram
Brandon Ingram had a strong performance against the Sacramento Kings. He finished that game with 30 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Ingram can put up big numbers, and if the Pelicans want to advance, they will need more strong performances from him. Ingram has been solid all season as he averages 23.7 points, 5.3 assists and 5.3 rebounds. As far as the tournament, he has been consistent scoring 20 or more points.
3.) LeBron James
LeBron James played well in the Lakers’ group play. He averaged 25.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 7.5 assists. James continues to play at a high level. The Lakers took down the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday, and James played a big role. He finished the game with 31 points. The Lakers are chasing a championship, and winning the In-Season Tournament could be a momentum boost. James will continue to shine as the Lakers hope to reach the tournament championship game.
4.) Giannis Antetokoumpo
Giannis Antetokounmpo remains one of the league’s top players. He averages 30.2 points, 10.7 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.3 blocks this season. Antetokounmpo is doing a bit of everything as the Bucks look to win another championship. The Bucks have a strong chance at winning the tournament, but anything could happen. If the Bucks do win the tournament, Antetokounmpo will be a huge factor.
5.) Damian Lillard
Keeping it in Milwaukee, another player to keep an eye on is Damian Lillard. Lillard is one of the league’s best scorers, and as he adjusts to his new home, he is playing well. Lillard averaged 29.3 points and 6.3 assists in the group play stage.
Lillard is searching for his first championship, and winning the tournament could be the motivation he and the Bucks need.
The In-Season Tournament has been interesting and looks like something that can be a staple in the NBA season for years to come.