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Haliburton’s leadership headlines preseason for growing Pacers

Tyrese Haliburton #0 of the Indiana Pacers watches in the first quarter against the Memphis Grizzlies at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on March 15, 2022, in Indianapolis. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indiana Pacers are in rebuild mode.

New faces and young players haven’t created much outside confidence for the team that won only 25 games last season, but head coach Rick Carlisle is a “glass half full” kind of guy.

“The base of our young talent has such upside potential that it’s really exciting,” Carlisle said.

The Pacers have just one week to iron things out before the season starts next Wednesday, Oct. 19. The emphasis in training camp and all preseason has been on defense and getting one of the youngest teams in the NBA ready to face the veterans.

“I like what we’re doing. We’ve changed a little bit of our approach, but we spent a very big chunk of time on it,” Carlisle said. “The game (Wednesday) night against New York, the second preseason game (against them), will be a good test for us.

“I think the preseason is more for building so when the season comes you’re ready,” point guard Tyrese Haliburton said. “When it’s time to go, I think guys will be ready. I think it will be really exciting. We’re really young, obviously. Got a lot of room to grow. A lot of fresh faces so it will be a lot of fun.”

What the Pacers lack in experience, they’re trying to make up for with the young, energetic talent, and that includes Haliburton. At 22 years old, he’s already had to take on a major leadership role with his team. It’s his third year in the league, but he says he has plenty of experience dealing with young teams.

“I’ve been on two young teens already in my two years in the NBA. There’s going to be ebbs and flows that come with it,” Haliburton said. “That’s what I’ve been talking about is when we get to practice we’ve been competing really hard, really getting after each other. That’s important. The hard part for a young team is to translate to do that every night against other players when you don’t know these guys. It’s different. You don’t know what to expect so you just have to be able to continue to do those things.”

“Leadership is a big part of Tyrese,” rookie guard Bennedict Mathurin said. “He brings all the energy, but also all his work ethic. Tyrese wants to work and wants to win. It’s a great thing to have on this team.”

“It’s an exciting time for the Pacers for a lot of reasons,” Carlisle said. “Tyrese, being a starting point guard the young talent that we have or among many of them.”

The Pacers host two final preseason games this week: the New York Knicks on Wednesday and the Houston Rockets on Friday. The season officially tips off Oct. 19 with the season opener against the Washington Wizards.