Who will the Pacers start with Tyrese Haliburton reportedly out for Game 3?

INDIANAPOLIS -- Pacers All-Star point guard Tyrese Haliburton will miss Saturday's Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals with left hamstring soreness. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Haliburton is out for Game 3 and will be reassessed for Game 4 on Monday, but that his availability for that game is in serious question and that the team will err on the side of caution. A league source confirmed the accuracy of Wojnarowski's report.

Pacers coach Rick Carlisle confirmed in his pre-game press conference that Haliburton will not be available and made it clear that Haliburton did not have a choice in the matter.

"He very much wants to play, desperately wants to play," Carlisle said. "But the decision on tonight was taken out of his hands earlier in the day. It was determined that tonight was not an option. He is feeling better. We'll see where he is on Monday."

The Pacers moved rookie guard Ben Sheppard into the starting lineup while leaving point guard T.J. McConnell and forward and Obi Toppin on the bench. Toppin and McConnell rank No. 1 and No. 2 in total points among bench players in the playoffs, but bringing McConnell off the bench allows the Pacers to stay closer to what their substitution patterns have been throughout the playoffs. Sheppard averaged 4.4 points per game in the regular season, but is averaging 5.7 per game during the playoffs while shooting 47.6% from the field and 40.9% from 3-point range, knocking down 18 of 44 3-pointers.

Haliburton left Thursday's Game 2 in Boston with less than four minutes to go in the third quarter and was ruled out for the rest of the game with what at the time was deemed left leg soreness. Haliburton posted 10 points on 4 of 8 shooting and eight assists before the injury, but the Pacers lost Game 2 126-110 to fall behind 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Indianapolis.

Haliburton strained the same hamstring on Jan. 8 in the first half of a win over the Celtics and missed 10 of the next 11 games after that. He returned after five games but his leg did not react well to that decision so he sat out another five and then returned on a minutes restriction that last about two weeks. The Pacers went 6-4 in the 10 games he missed.

"We're going to have to play well, there's no question about that," Carlisle said. "In terms of the math, the possession game will continue to be key. We have to cut turnovers down. We had 22 in the first game, too many in the second game. That's a correctable thing. We have to do better there."

Haliburton was named an Eastern Conference starter in the All-Star Game earlier this season, earning his second straight All-Star nod. On Wednesday he was named to third-team All-NBA, which maximizes the five-year contract extension he signed in July, allowing him to make 30% of the salary cap as opposed to 25% beginning in the 2024-25 season. Haliburton averaged 20.1 points and an NBA-leading 10.9 assists per game this season. In the playoffs, he's averaging 18.7 points and 8.2 assists per game, leading the No. 6 seed Pacers to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 2014.

Celtics center Krisaps Porzingis, who has been out since the first round with a calf strain, is still listed as out. Center Luke Kornet, who has been the backup center behind Al Horford in Porzingis' absence, was listed as doubtful with a left wrist sprain and then downgraded to out. After he exited the game in the first half on Thursday, the Celtics went with a smaller lineup and used former Pacers wing Oshae Brissett as the center and got good results.

Point guard Jrue Holiday was added to the injury report on Saturday morning with a non-COVID illness. Holiday, a two-time All-Star and six-time member of the All-Defensive team, posted 28 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in Game 1 of the series and 15 points on 6 of 7 shooting and 10 assists in Game 2. Holiday was deemed available after his pre-game workout.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Tyree Haliburton (hamstring) to miss Game 3 of East finals