The Milwaukee Bucks and Indiana Pacers are drumming up a new rivalry
The (24-9) first-place Central Division leading Milwaukee Bucks take on the (18-14) second-place Indiana Pacers on the road for the fifth and final time this season. Indiana leads the season series 3 games to 1. This all comes after Indiana managed a second place finish for the inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament, losing to the Lakers while managing to beat the Bucks in their “final four” game.
Then, of course, we had “game-ball gate” when Giannis set the franchise single game scoring record with 64 points. Indiana stole the ball to mess with Milwaukee and here we are.
This new rivalry is good for both teams. Chicago and Detroit are pretty down right now. And who knows what is going on in Cleveland. Again, to reiterate, this is the 5th TIME these teams have squared off this season. It’ll be the last time they meet until a possible playoff match-up occurs in late April.
The game tips off a little earlier at 6pm CST. From scanning through my paper copy of my TV Guide I don’t see the game being broadcast anywhere nationally. The game should be broadcast live on Bally’s Sports. Milwaukee is favored by 2.5 points.
Indiana is on a four game winning streak. The Pacers lead the league in scoring at 126.4 points a game. Milwaukee is second, scoring 124.6 points per game.
You’d have to think this won’t be a defensive clinic.
Milwaukee Bucks keys to victory
Damian Lillard is a great, veteran presence on this team. But he really needs to do a better job of defending Pacers star Tyrese Haliburton. Plus he needs to score more.
In the most recent 122-113 loss Haliburton scored 26 and dished off 11 assists. Lillard responded with 13 points on 3-16 shooting. Hey, we all have off days, but Lillard needs to step it up tonight.
Keep shooting (and defending) the three: Win the Three Point Battle
In the most recent loss to Indiana at home Milwaukee was 10-40 from 3. The Pacers were a woeful 5-35. But Indiana still managed to win. Milwaukee needs to score and score often from 3.
The Bucks average 37.8 three-point attempts per game. That was right on par with last season.
Indiana shoots 38.5 attempts per game. Interestingly enough that is almost exactly where Milwaukee was at last year.
The volume matters in shooting the three but the “makes” matter even more. Milwaukee and Indiana are almost a statistical tie when it comes to “makes” (14.7 vs 14.3).
What do all the numbers mean: the team that makes the most threes, and takes the most, is going to win the game. It is, afterall, the NBA regular season. Entertainment time.
And the Bucks have Dame. How about like, a 7/10 night from behind the arc?
Box Out: Win the Rebound Battle
Milwaukee is an above-average rebounding team. Indiana is the worst (tied for 29th in the league in team rebounding). There needs to be a large margin here to ensure a Bucks win.
Milwaukee currently averages 34.8 defensive rebounds a game, 3rd overall in the NBA. If the Bucks box-out and keep a pesky Indiana team off of the offensive glass, this bodes well for a Bucks win.
The Opponent: The Indiana Pacers
Rick Carlisle is an NBA veteran coach that has radically changed the Pacers culture. He also seems to be in “win at all costs mode”. Hence “game-ball gate”.
Plus, it now appears the Pacers have clearly won the Sabonis for Haliburton trade. Haliburton is beginning to blossom into a star. Tyrese Haliburton, acquired with Buddy Hield for Domantas Sabonis of the Sacramento Kings, has started to become an NBA superstar. He is back and playing well this season after struggling last year with injuries. He leads the team in scoring 24.7 points per game.
Halliburton, who was born in Oshkosh and attended Oshkosh North High school, was drafted 12th by the Kings in the 2020 draft. He also leads the team, and the whole NBA, in assists (12.7 per game) and turnovers (2.6)
Myles Turner is an NBA cheat code when it comes to blocked shots per game. Right now he is averaging 2.1 blocks per game, slightly below his career average. Turner also leads the team in rebounding (8.0 a game).
That is, maybe the one spot Milwaukee truly could exploit Indiana- they don’t have a ton of size.
Indiana added former Denver Nugget Bruce Brown in the off season. He is a good defender and plays a lot (30 minutes a game).
Former Buck Jordan Nwora still plays with the Pacers. Also in that trade was George Hill. The 37 year old is currently not on the roster of an NBA franchise. Hill is still considering retirement.
Things to tell your buddies as you are watching the game
- Indiana’s Head Coach Rick Carlisle played professionally for the Boston Celtics. He played alongside Larry Bird.
- The Bucks play tomorrow night against the Spurs.
- Tyrese Haliburton went to Iowa State.
- Are we going to get any snow? Wisconsin typically gets 10’ of snow in December. So far this year: nothing? What’s up with that?
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