Bucks vs Pacers- Game 2
The 31-17 Milwaukee Bucks take on the 24-26 Indiana Pacers on the road in downtown Indianapolis at the GainBridge Fieldhouse . The Bucks are 12-12 away from the Fiserv forum and the Pacers are 16-9 at home.
The NBA All-Star game is less than a month away (Feb. 19th). But Milwaukee is starting to get some momentum with the return of Khris Middleton. Middleton scored 10 points in 15 minutes of play vs the Nuggets in a 107-99 win Wednesday night.
Indiana is 9th in the Eastern Conference and would make the playoffs if they were held tomorrow. However, because of some key injuries, Tyrese Haliburton especially, they haven’t played well of late. Buddy Hield, Myles Turner and rookie Bennedict Mathurin makeup Indiana’s “Big Three”.
Surprisingly this is only the second time these two clubs have played. Milwaukee won game one on MLK day 132-119 at home.
No more than 14 total team turnovers
On “Bucks Twitter” sub-par guard play in Milwaukee has been a hot topic. Jrue Holiday had five turnovers against Denver and while that isn’t a lot, it is more than you’d like to see. Grayson Allen has done a good job this season defending and not turning the ball over. But, of course, there are still critics.
Giannis in the Nuggets game also committed 9 turnovers. That is too many.
Now, in Giannis’s defense sometimes that is a set, offensive play Coach Bud wants to run. But lately the turnovers are just killing him. Against the Detroit Antentokoumpo only had 4 turnovers. That was good. Against the Raptors in a game that had no business going into overtime he had 12. 12!
As a team the Bucks are averaging 14.8 turnovers per game this season. That is not a terrible number and against Detroit, Milwaukee had 20 turnovers and won.
Against Charlotte Milwaukee had 16 turnovers and against Toronto Milwaukee had 25! Again, Giannis had 12! That is too many. Turnovers shift the momentum of a game. That matters.
Get better play from the starters
When does Middleton return to the starting line-up? Giannis has also been up and down because of injury lately. Is he in “full” killer Giannis mode. In this game the Bucks starting five is simply better than what the Pacers have. The Pacers don’t play with a true center (even though Myles Turner is a blocked shots machine), instead playing with three “shooting guards”. The Bucks need to exploit that from their starters and play faster and, ironically, taller.
The key match-up will be the Jrue Holiday- TJ McConnell match-up. The Bucks need to contain him. Allowing him to go for another 29 points seems both unlikely and improbable.
The Bucks have slipped back in their race to be the best team in terms of team rebounding (Memphis 49.1, Milwaukee 48.7). Why does that number even matter? The top eight defensive rebounding teams would all make the playoffs tomorrow. When you rebound, especially as a team, you control and limit possessions. While the Bucks continue to be the best defensive rebounding team in the NBA, they have slipped a little on the offensive boards.
Related Game One Preview
The Opponent: The Indiana Pacers
Indiana has been a surprise team in the NBA so far this season. At 23-22 they have exceeded many of the pre-season predictions. Tyrese Haliburton, acquired with Buddy Hield for Domantas Sabonis of the Sacramento Kings, has started to become an NBA superstar. Lucky for the Bucks he won’t play due to injury.
Haliburton, who was born in Oshkosh and attended Oshkosh North High school, was drafted 12th by the Kings in the 2020 draft. He leads the Pacers in scoring with 20.2 points per game. He also leads the team in assists (10.2 per game) and steals (1.8).
Myles Turner played against the Bucks in game one of the season series. He scored 30 points. Turner is an NBA cheat code when it comes to blocked shots per game. Right now he is only averaging 2.3, slightly below his career average.
Bennedict Mathurin also played against the Bucks in game one. He didn’t play so hot (+/- 8). Mathurin (6th overall pick Arizona) is in the conversation for rookie of the year. He is averaging 17 points per game and has yet to seem to have hit that dreaded “NBA rookie wall”.
Rookie Andrew Nembhard, the Pacers second round pick in this year’s draft, has been called into action because of the injury to Haliburton. He plays a ton and shoots a ton. (16 attempts two games ago vs Atlanta). He is an excellent free throw shooter (90%+).
Things to tell your buddies as you are watching the game
- Milwaukee leads the all-time series 112-91.
- Remember the movie “Hoosiers”. What a great film!
- The Pacers were a founding member in the ABA, a competing league to the NBA. One of the things that led to the ABA’s downfall was the $3.2 million dollar membership fee that was charged from each team. That was in the 1970’s.
- Reggie Miller was drafted by the Pacers in 1987. The exchange between him and Spike Lee in the NBA playoffs still is cemented in my memory.
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