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Milwaukee vs. Indiana: Pacers Surprise Bucks, 139-123

Hot shooting and a fast-paced Pacers team dooms Milwaukee

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

In a surprising outcome, the Bucks weren’t able to get the job done at home against the Indiana Pacers, falling 139-123.

Milwaukee’s offense wasted no time getting set up in this one. Right out of the gates, they were flirting with a double-digit lead, making life tough for Indiana on defense. Joe Ingles provided a massive spark off the bench, splashing home several threes. That and more helped the Bucks channel a 40-30 advantage after the first quarter.

Early in the second, Giannis would pick up three fouls in the span of a minute. This was one of the reasons as to why the Pacers were able to erase that Milwaukee lead and tie things back up at about the halfway mark. However, nearly as quickly as their lead vanished, the Bucks rebuilt another lead. At half, it was the Bucks leading by a 64-55 score.

Indiana would go to a zone in the third quarter and Milwaukee had no trouble in exposing it. They’d have the lead for a good chunk of the quarter, but in the final minute, Indiana snatched it away from them. Headed into the final period of regulation, Indiana sat with a small lead at 104-101. They ended up pouring in 49 points in the period.

Milwaukee was unable to correct things in the first few minutes of the fourth, as the Pacers expanded their lead to double-digits. Indiana wouldn’t let up from deep. Their threes kept on falling, making it harder and harder for the Bucks to have any path towards a comeback. Ultimately, the white flag would be waved, and the Pacers escaped with a 139-123 victory.

Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 25 points served as a game-high. Khris Middleton and Bobby Portis each contributed with 16 points.

For Indiana, Andrew Nembhard was the go-to guy, feelings things out for 24 points. Aaron Nesmith was also big, hitting six threes which paved the way for 22 points.

The Bucks will have a chance to rebound Sunday night against the Toronto Raptors at Fiserv Forum.

Three Observations

The Pacers’ pace continues to hurt the Bucks.

We’ve seen it before during this season. Every time the two teams meet, the pace from Indiana is one of the themes that stands out. It was also the theme among the players postgame, in addition to Bud. The Pacers do have a lot of guards that are quite shifty and that can weave their way through defensive challenges, led by T.J. McConnell. Additionally, Andrew Nembhard made things difficult for Milwaukee. Postgame, Jrue Holiday was asked what he felt the team had to improve on before the playoffs, and, you guessed it...transition defense was one of the things he highlighted.

Indiana’s 3-point shooting was too deadly.

When a team sinks 22 3-pointers, it’s going to be hard to defeat them. That was the case in last night’s game. Indiana would end up going 22-of-46 from the perimeter compared to Milwaukee converting just 11 of them. In the third quarter, the Pacers buried eight threes. That made 24 of the 49 they scored in the period. The hot shooting continued in the fourth, as they hit three more. All in all, it was just too deep of a hole for the Bucks to dig themselves out of.

Not having Brook Lopez really hurt the Bucks.

Pre-game, it was announced by Mike Budenholzer that Brook Lopez would be sidelined. That’s something that definitely captures your attention, as Lopez is a player that never really misses a game. However, he did last night — and it impacted Milwaukee severely. Without his defensive prowess, the Pacers were able to attack with more confidence and facilitate their offense in a more efficient manner. Additionally, it put more pressure on Giannis defensively, which made him rack up more fouls and being forced to have his minutes manage. It’s clear the importance that Brook has on this team, and last night, it was well on display. Postgame, here’s what Bud had to say regarding that matter:

“Yeah, there’s no doubt that Giannis’ foul situation made it more difficult on him, especially more difficult on us. He and us gotta learn from it, be better. But they were good. They attacked us, they got to the rim, they got threes. They were very good.”

Bonus Bucks Bits

  • It wasn’t Pat Connaughton’s night. He’d go just 1-of-6 from the floor and struggled on defense, flying past players. His old teammate George Hill definitely got the best of him.
  • TJ McConnell continues to be a Bucks killer. He’s just all over the place.
  • The Pacers won this without no Tyrese Haliburton. Kudos to Rick Carlisle for having his guys ready.
  • There was a sequence where Bobby Portis had an incredible possession on defense and forced a shot clock violation. Just a wild effort from him.
  • This was a beautiful move from Khris:
  • Giannis has now tied Junior Bridgeman (711) for the most games played in franchise history. Antetokounmpo is already the franchise leader in points, assists, blocks, triple-doubles, free throws and minutes played.
  • Brook Lopez reached the 20-point mark for the sixth time in 11 games since the All-Star break on Tuesday, and for the fourth time in his last five games, by scoring 21 points with 10 rebounds against the Suns. Since the All-Star break, Lopez is averaging 20.4 points per game and shooting 56.6% from the field and 41.8% from three. Tuesday’s game was also his ninth double-double of the season, matching the nine he tallied in his first four seasons with the Bucks combined.
  • With the loss, the Bucks’ 10 game-winning streak against the Pacers is history. It had previously trailed only the 14-game streaks the team has against Orlando and Sacramento.
  • In the first quarter, the Bucks put up a photo of George Hill and then one of Jordan Nwora on the jumbotron. They both received a nice round of applause from the Fiserv Forum crowd.