The NBA's first-ever In-Season Tournament will come to a close on Saturday, as the Indiana Pacers and Los Angeles Lakers will face off in the competition's title game at 8:30 p.m. ET. The LeBron James-led Lakers are favored to take home the hardware, but Pacers point guard Tyrese Haliburton wants to end his team's impressive climb to the top with a win after overcoming a ton of obstacles to reach the final stage.
"We're not supposed to be here and nobody expected us to be here," Haliburton told reporters on Friday. "We've been probably looked at to lose the majority of our tournament games. The Philly game, we weren't supposed to win. Boston game we definitely weren't supposed to win. Milwaukee, we definitely weren't supposed to win. That's just been part of the storybook of this, and it's been a lot of fun. But it's not done yet. We've got to be prepared to go tomorrow and approach that game the right way."
Haliburton, a Wisconsin native, grew up idolizing James and looks forward to getting a chance to go toe-to-toe with him for the seventh time in his career.
"LeBron was my favorite player growing up, and it's hard for him not to be for a lot of us," Haliburton said. "Growing up, I was a Cavs fan, then a Heat fan, then a Cavs fan again, then a Lakers fan before I got drafted. It's just how it went. To be able to compete against him in a championship is kind of like a storybook a little bit, and it's going to be a lot of fun."
Haliburton is 4-2 against James all-time and boasts career averages of 18.8 points, 10.7 assists, and 4.3 rebounds against him. He'll look to improve upon those numbers in what's arguably the biggest game of his career so far.