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Milwaukee vs. Indiana: Bucks Too Much for Pacers, 128-119

Giannis Antetokounmpo delivers a 50-point performance in his return

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Milwaukee Bucks Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Last night delivered another classic Giannis performance, as his 50 point outing paved the way for a Milwaukee Bucks victory over the Indiana Pacers.

After sitting out vs. the Trail Blazers on Monday night, Giannis Antetokounmpo returned to the starting lineup last night — and you could immediately tell. The Greek Freak exploded for 12 points in the first 12 minutes. That’d be the leading effort in providing Milwaukee with a 34-27 lead after one.

Milwaukee would hold a 69-63 advantage going into the locker room. There’d be times where their defense would struggle, but the outputs from Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton allowed the Bucks to stay one step ahead of the Pacers.

The Bucks would continue to see their defense tested in the third quarter. In the early going, they’d be able to stave off Indiana by simply outscoring them. However, down the stretch, the Pacers began to close the gap. Going into the fourth, Milwaukee held a slim 99-94 lead.

Milwaukee’s defense really locked up in the fourth quarter. Indiana would tally just 25 points in the period. While their offense slowed down, the Bucks’ did not — mainly Giannis. He’d keep pouring it on the Pacers, as he reached the 50 point plateau down the stretch. It’d help the Bucks get the 128-119 victory.

Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way, totaling another massive 50 point outing. He’d also haul in 14 rebounds. For the Pacers, Buddy Hield served as the lead scorer, pouring in 36 points, a stat line which included eight threes.

Three Observations

I mean, Giannis Antetokounmpo. What else can be said?

The man was simply being himself. After being sidelined due to an ankle injury on Monday, he came back in a massive force last night. His final stat line? 50 points, 14 rebounds, and four assists — on 21 shots. The thing that was the most impressive was the fact that he did it with such ease. Like, it really did seem that he could have poured in 60 points if he really wanted to. The energy that Antetokounmpo displays is on another level. I mean, a 2-time MVP diving into the stands for a loose ball...in February? He’s just built different.

Lindell Wigginton made a strong impact off the bench.

After Grayson Allen was sidelined due to left hip soreness, Lindell Wigginton filled in for a chunk of those minutes. He took advantage of the time that was granted to him, as he tallied 12 points in 28 minutes of action. In his postgame availability, Bud praised Ligginton’s toughness and intensity that he brings to the floor:

“His toughness. His competitiveness. We talk about that being the No. 1 thing we’re looking for. He just competes. Defensively, he gets after it. Just really like the things he can do both on the ball and off the ball. Then offensively he’s got confidence, he attacks the basket, gets to the free throw line, makes some threes. I think he’s gonna get more comfortable, but then not lose his confidence, his competitiveness, and he’s helping us for sure tonight and we’re gonna need it more.”

In his postgame availability, Wigginton mentioned how his mindset of always staying ready helped him prepare for this moment.

The struggle continues on defense for Milwaukee.

We all know how the last few games have been sluggish for the Bucks on the defensive end of the basketball, and last night was another example. It was definitely more porous in the first three quarters, as down the stretch, things seemed to tighten up. However, it still remains a major concern for Milwaukee and they’ll definitely be tested against a difficult Philadelphia team on Thursday night. As for the defensive issues, here’s what Bud had to say:

“Yeah, you know, we just gotta keep working on it. I thought we were a little more competitive tonight and Hield’s a tough cover himself. He gets eight threes and some of them felt like we defended pretty well. But he gets a few in transition. We just gotta be sharper in transition. I thought, you know, to be honest with you, even though 118 points, a little more positive tonight. Having Serge, Giannis, Bobby, you know that’s going to help us with that size, athleticism, length. We just gotta keep working.”

Bonus Bucks Bits

  • With the win, Milwaukee has swept Indiana for the second consecutive season. Milwaukee has now defeated the Pacers four times this season, extending its winning streak against its Central Division rival to eight games. In the Mike Budenholzer era (since 2018), the Bucks are now 13-2 against the Pacers.
  • This is just a wild stat:
  • Quote of the night goes to Jordan Nwora:
  • Tyrese Haliburton is a special player. I still don’t know why the Kings gave him up, but man, he’s a joy to watch. Some of the shots and passes he made last night made me open my mouth in amazement. I’m excited that he’ll be playing the Bucks more than twice a year now.
  • It’s going to be interesting to see how long Grayson Allen is sidelined with his hip injury, if any time at all. Lindell Wigginton is a fun player to watch and it’ll be intriguing to see how he takes advantage of any time given to him.