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Milwaukee Bucks vs. Indiana Pacers Preview: Battling Inside and Out

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The Pacers matchup provides a team happy to shoot the long ball or right under the rim

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NBA: Indiana Pacers at Milwaukee Bucks Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Bucks doused the fanbase’s flaming heads with water by pouring it on the Portland Trailblazers, 134-106, and now they prepare for a divisional matchup with the Indiana Pacers. With a win helping everyone’s collective spirit, this is their last home game before the Bucks set off for a six-game trip that will take them across the Western Conference. For now though, they have to focus on a frisky Pacers team.

Where We’re At

We all don’t need to rehash the dour events of this past weekend. The New Orleans Pelicans and Charlotte Hornets made short work of Milwaukee by dominating them from beyond the arc. The Pelicans hit a franchise record, and Charlotte nailed 20+ themselves en route to a win. Winning against Portland by such an outrageous margin made it tough to analyze any significant takeaways, particularly on the defensive end, but they seemed to be making a concerted effort early on to push their defense closer towards the perimeter. Don’t expect Milwaukee to shoot 21-42 from beyond the arc again, but the quickest path to re-emerging as one of the league’s elite teams is getting their defense sorted. Even in a transitionary period, the offense has been humming. The Pacers should offer a solid test in that regard.

In year’s past, saying Indiana will test the Bucks from beyond the arc would’ve seemed laughable. Nate McMillan, for all he wrung out of that Pacers squad, never bought into the long ball in any significant way. New coach Nate Bjorkgren has changed al that. Now, they’re hyper-focused on the efficient areas. With 35.6% of shots coming from deep (that was 29.5% last year - 29th in the league), and 44% coming at the rim, they’ll test Milwaukee high-and-low. The battle inside is most intriguing to me. The Bucks pride themselves on keeping teams out of the paint, and the Pacers stop teams down there with Myles Turner, boasting the third stingiest rim defense in the league.

The fulcrums of that offense are former Buck Malcolm Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis. With Victor Oladipo traded to Houston, Brogdon has full control of the offense and is averaging 22.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game. Sabonis isn’t far behind with 21.1 points, 12.0 rebounds and an impressive 5.7 assists for a big man.

After blowing a game late to the Philadelphia 76ers over the weekend, they’re fresh off a 134-116 victory against the Memphis Grizzlies. They’ll need to combat the back-to-back blues as they travel to Milwaukee.

It’s a clean bill of health for Milwaukee, while Caris LaVert and T.J. Warren are out for the Pacers.

Player to Watch

I’d love to get cute, but it’s gotta be Malcolm Brogdon. We were robbed of some Brogdon revenge games last year with him nursing an injury (huh...), but he’s back and seemingly better than ever now. At 40.4% from deep on seven attempts per game, his deep shot has remained elite and he likely wouldn’t mind proving a little something to any organizational onlookers at Fiserv Forum. No Bledsoe takes a little bite out of the matchup, but I’ll enjoy seeing how Brogdon’s dribble penetration works against Jrue Holiday.

Poll

Game 21: Against Indiana, the Bucks will...

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    Win big (by 10 or more points)
    (28 votes)
  • 49%
    Win close (by 9 or fewer points)
    (53 votes)
  • 19%
    Lose close (by 9 or fewer points)
    (21 votes)
  • 5%
    Lose big (by 10 or more points)
    (6 votes)
108 votes total Vote Now

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