The Milwaukee Bucks started off the new year with a 131-127 overtime loss to the Toronto Raptors. The Bucks’ first 2018 game at the BMO Harris Bradley Center pits them against the Indiana Pacers for the first time this season.
Before the Toronto loss, the Bucks closed out their 2017 with back-to-back victories over the Minnesota Timberwolves and Oklahoma City Thunder. The Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Eric Bledsoe triad has been one of the best trios in the NBA. KEG is pouring in 68 points a night on average ever since Bledsoe came over in the early-November trade. That 68 point mark puts the group at fourth in the NBA and highest in the Eastern Conference. The last time the Bucks carded a double digit victory was back in early-December against the Utah Jazz. Hopefully Milwaukee’s propensity for close games will take the night off against a depleted Pacer roster.
Player to Watch: Khris Middleton
Middleton has been struggling in his past four games, averaging just 17 points on 39 percent shooting from the field. Khash has always been the tough shot express conductor and the past week has seen those tough shots not fall. With Victor Oladipo not playing tonight, Middleton will easily be the best wing on the court not named Giannis. Tonight’s game should offer a reprieve for Khris and give him a great opportunity to snap his little funk.
The Pacers have found themselves in a free fall lately. They are in the midst of a four game losing streak and star player, Victor Oladipo, has been sidelined for three of those games with knee problems. As mentioned earlier, Oladipo will not be suiting up for the Pacers tonight, which does not bode well for Indiana. The Pacers got off to a better than expected start, but seem to be regressing back to the mean. Indiana has eclipsed the 100 point mark just once during their four game losing, so we will see if Milwaukee’s defense can keep that trend going.
Player to Watch: Myles Turner
The third year center has picked up where he left off last year and even added some more defensive prowess to his game. His 2.3 blocks per game is tops in the NBA, an along with Oladipo, has given the Pacers faithful an optimistic outlook for the future. John Henson has been solid all year and Turner provides another litmus test for Henson. If Hook can mitigate Turner’s impact, then Indiana will have a tough time snapping their losing streak.