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Milwaukee vs. Indiana: Bucked by the Pacers

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It was an ugly game...I vote we burn the game footage. Who is with me?

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Indiana Pacers Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Bucks ran into a buzzsaw on Wednesday night as they fell to the surging Indiana Pacers 113-97 at the Bankers Life FieldHouse. As we saw in year’s past, the Pacers seem to have the Bucks’ number in Indiana, and last night was no different. The loss snaps Milwaukee’s 2-game winning streak, while the Pacers have now won 5 straight. Here are three things that stood out in the grueling defeat.

Is Thaddeus Young the Giannis “stopper?”

Not quite, but he has made life incredibly difficult for Giannis Antetokounmpo the last few times these squads have matched up. The Greek Freak did not look like himself at all, and it looked like he had no clue what to do against the Pacers defense, besides defer to teammates. He gave an interesting quote to Eric Nehm (via Matt Velazquez) about that very fact.

He finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds, and 7 assists in 31 minutes. He took only 7 shots and was flummoxed throughout the game. He finished minus-31! That has got to be near a career-worst. Credit to Thad Young, though. He’s tough as nails and did a terrific job at taking it to Giannis on both ends of the floor. Even though Giannis played very poorly, he still gave us a nightly highlight.

Khris Middleton stunk up the joint, again.

He has not looked like himself since he took the night off versus the Pistons last week, and that trend continued on Wednesday night. Mired in one of the worst slumps of his career, it took Middleton 18 shots (he made 4) to score 10 points in 34 minutes of play versus the Pacers. For the month of December, he’s averaging 11.5 points per game while shooting an abysmal 30% from the floor. He is way better than this, and while his slump is somewhat concerning, it is only December. There’s no doubt in my mind that Khris Middleton will snap out of this funk and continue to help the Bucks win basketball games.

The Eric Bledsoe train keeps on chugging along.

He was the lone bright spot for the Bucks, finishing with 26 points and 6 assists while shooting 11-of-16 from the field and 2-of-5 from deep in 33 minutes. He’s fantastic at slashing to the basket and creating contact around the rim to get to the foul line. He’s also kept opposing defenses honest with his ability to knock down the three ball. He’s been extremely valuable to the Bucks this season, and without his performance, it’s hard to see where the Bucks would be at right now. Contract year or not, Bledsoe is balling for the Bucks and it’s fun to watch.

MY EYES...THEY BURN!!!!

For the Pacers, point guard Victor Oladipo made his anticipated return from a knee injury to score 12 points to go along with 10 rebounds and 6 assists in 29 minutes. The Pacers and the home crowd were certainly energized by his return. Thaddeus Young not only provided stellar defense, but chipped in 25 points and 11 rebounds while finishing plus-28. He’s such a savvy vet. Myles Turner hit some big shots and ended with 23 points and 3 blocks while making 4-of-6 three-pointers.

Bonus Bucks Bits

  • Every member of the Bucks starting 5 finished with a negative plus/minus.
  • Brook Lopez chipped in 15 points and added 4 blocked shots which is certainly a plus.
  • Malcolm Brogdon came back down to earth with 9 points in 25 minutes.
  • Shout out to Sterling Brown. He came off the bench and scored 8 points in 27 minutes whole finishing plus-3 on the night.
  • Newly acquired George Hill was very meh in this one, which isn’t all too surprising. Four points in 22 minutes. It’s only his second game with the team.
  • The Bucks shot 41.3% overall and 25.6% from deep.
  • The Bucks were out-rebounded by the Pacers 55-43.