Giannis Antetokounmpo (a 38-point triple-double) and Jrue Holiday (a career-high 51 points) returned to the lineup with a bang, giving their Milwaukee Bucks the season series over the Indiana Pacers three to one. The magic number for the Bucks to secure the East’s top seed is now 4.
The first was close throughout, with Giannis’ hard-earned 13 in the period stemming from repeated battering ram-style assaults inside that the Pacers tried to counter with physicality (i.e. fouling him at every opportunity). Milwaukee led 34-30 to start the second, and Indiana played them even during the next dozen minutes despite Holiday adding 17 to his 10 from the first, good for a career-best 27 in a half. Giannis dropped five dimes in the quarter and grabbed another three boards after seven in the first, leaving him just an assist shy of a triple-double when he headed to the locker room, with the Bucks ahead 73-69.
Though Giannis notched the triple-double just shy of four minutes into the third (the fastest he’s reached the mark in his career), the story became Holiday, whose 18 third-quarter points staked Milwaukee to nearly a 20-point lead and established a new career-high of 42 with just over two minutes left. Though a five-point possession (free throws from a flagrant-1 and a buzzer-beating three) by Aaron Nesmith cut it to 119-107 entering the final frame, Holiday and Giannis got cracking again to extend the lead to 20 with just under seven remaining. Holiday and Brook Lopez kept it around there before both coaches went to their bench.
Stat That Stood Out
There are so many ways I could go with this one, but since I pointed out the big individual numbers already, I’ll choose the Bucks’ 18-12 edge in fast-break scoring. That might not seem significant, but the young and athletic Pacers have ran this more mature Bucks squad all over the floor this year. To wit, Indiana won this category 26-13 in their victory over Milwaukee nearly two weeks ago, so the older dudes wrestling control of the game’s pace—especially in the fourth quarter—was key to this W.