After taking care of business with an easy win in Charlotte on Friday, the Bucks return home to face the Pacers for their third game in as many nights. It's the first of three meetings between the two teams in the final five weeks of the season and a critical test for the Bucks, who continue to trail the Knicks by a half game for the 8th seed.
Up and down. Frank Vogel and company have a nice thing going in Indiana, but it's not to say it's been a smooth ride this season. After starting the season 17-7, the Pacers lost five in a row, then won six in a row, and then lost another four in a row. Go figure. They're now 4-7 in their last 11 and clinging to a tenuous lead over the Hawks for the fifth seed, which would seem them face off against Philly in a hypothetical first round matchup. The interesting part is that Indy has a better record than Philly (27-21), but the Sixers would claim the higher playoff seed by virtue of leading the weak Atlantic Division.
Bigs and smalls. The Bucks will be at a distinct size disadvantage when the teams tip, with Roy Hibbert standing roughly four inches taller than Drew Gooden and Paul George towering about six inches over Monta Ellis. George won't turn 22 until early May but has already developed into a high quality starter for the Pacers, combining tremendous length and athleticism with a smooth overall game. He does a bit of everything right now: scoring at an efficient clip (56.0% true shooting), rebounding well for a swing man and the Pacers are 7.8 pts/100 possessions better defensively with him on the court.
Be the ball, Danny. Danny Granger has been the Pacers' offensive focal point for almost a half decade now, but the Pacers' improved play hasn't had much of anything to do with Granger's own evolution. The Pacers don't need Granger to carry load like they once did, which is good because his scoring (18.0 ppg, lowest since his rookie year), rebounding (4.6 rpg) and scoring efficiency (career-low 52.2% true shooting and .398 fg%) have suffered notable declines this season. Given George's improvement, it's probably not shocking that Granger's name was thrown around as possible trade bait, and his long-term future in Indiana will be an item to watch over the summer.