I love the Pacers, but the Bucks should’ve won the IST SemiFinals

The title says it all. I love the Pacers, but the Bucks should’ve won the In-Season Tournament SemiFinals game. And this is a fan post, so I feel comfortable using the letter "I" here and venting my frustration. Oops. I used it again.

The In-Season Tournament wasn’t the playoffs or anything, but sorta and the Bucks should’ve beaten the Pacers in the semifinals round. Watching the Lakers hang up a banner and seeing how they played with Anthony Davis having a 40-point performance, I’m not sure if the Bucks would’ve won it all. But they should’ve beaten the Pacers. Let me explain.

The Eastern Conference is a dog fight, or usually. Teams like the Indiana Pacers have been making noise, and I’ve heard all the fandom. Sometimes, near my backyard because Milwaukee is in the same market as the Pacers. The noise is too loud and too close to home sometimes, however. Even after the IST and witnessing a Damian Lillard and Tyrese Halliburton matchup, the Bucks are still better and the top team in the East. Or maybe this is all my imagination and it’s still 2021 in my head or 2013 draft night when Giannis’ name was called.

The Pacers are good. They’re great. Tyrese Halliburton is perfection. Those are not just words. I’ve seen the highlights, and when watching them I feel like an expert and have to put on my glasses. The way they run their offense and control the pace of the game, especially with Halliburton as the floor general is not anything to miss. Although the world would be missing out on Pacers action this season if it weren’t for Twitter and sports blogs like this one because it’s been news that the Pacers don’t have a single nationally televised game this season. That explains why Tyrese Haliburton has been playing like a mad man and trying to get his shine on.

I understand. As the title suggests, I love the Pacers. Reggie Miller is one of my top 5 favorite basketball players of all-time, so I understand the Pacers fandom and the way they do things in Indiana every time the black and yellow hit the hardwood floor. It’s just that, also as the title suggests: The Bucks should’ve won that game. It was another one of those games where the Bucks should’ve won in my heart, mind, body, soul, and spirit, but the other team came in and took everything.

There are a few reasons why, and it’s smart to start with the most reassuring one. Basketball is a competition as is everything in life, and sometimes life isn’t fair. The IST spoke to that more than anything. This was an ultimate competition, tournament style, and with the incentive of a money prize at the end of it. The Bucks were outplayed. Every rainbow three that Haliburton put up, the Bucks just looked up in the sky and watched the ball fall through the net. That’s all they could do. Then, there was the mockery of Lillard’s "Dame Time" celebration, which had us all at home watching just in awe.

Antetokounmpo scoring an efficient 37 points put a smile on many Bucks faces and made things better, but that’s the second thing. The Bucks actually had a good game. The starters scored in double-digits. Meanwhile, only Tyrese Haliburton, Myles Turner, and Obi Toppin showed up to play on the Pacers end, but that’s all they needed. Benedict Mathurin didn’t have a superstar game and they were missing Aaron Nesmith. It wasn’t until the final minutes that the Bucks were really outplayed and decided to slack off.

That brings us all to the third and final point, the Bucks did slack and yes, on defense. The Bucks defense hasn’t been great this season. There are numbers to prove it. But anyone watching any Bucks game this season can see it and has been saying it. It’s the quality over anything else. The naked eye can see while the Bucks have a hefty offense, they have a lackluster defense because of it. It’s a problem they’ll have to solve or it will resolve on its own without all of our opinions.

If there is any reassurance or relief, the Bucks have the Pacers again tonight on a Wednesday night in December at Fiserv Forum without an in-season championship banner hanging over either of their heads. We’ll see if Dame Time can get his celebration back and show what time it really is.

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