INDIANAPOLIS – It’s never a good time to play the Milwaukee Bucks (53-9).
But Wednesday definitely was not a good time.
The Bucks awoke from their recent quiet offensive performances and never trailed against a banged-up Pacers team.
Big runs in the first and third quarter led the home Bucks to a 119-100 victory, ending Indiana’s four-game winning streak.
While the Pacers did come back from an early 20-point hole, they had nothing for another comeback in the second half.
“In the first quarter, I thought we took some quick shots,” Nate McMillan said after the Pacers fell to 35-27 on the year. “Those quick shots led to quick baskets. I thought in the second, third, and fourth quarter we started to settle down and get into our offense and force them to defend playing our third and fourth options. We were able to score and get ourselves back into the game before halftime. I thought we did a little bit of that in the first quarter.
“I loved the fight that we had. It was short-handed. Some guys had to play some big minutes. That team, they have the formula. They lead the league in scoring and field goal percentage defense. They play both sides of the ball and make you earn it. Tonight, our shots weren’t falling for us.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 29 points, 12 rebounds and 6 assists.
Despite shooting just 28 percent from three, the Bucks outrebounded Indiana by 17 and doubled the amount of free throw attempts of the Pacers.
The Pacers again played without Victor Oladipo (right knee swelling) and lost Malcolm Brogdon (hip) after 11 minutes on Wednesday.
T.J. Warren paced Indiana with 18 points.
The Bucks won the 2019-20 season series over the Pacers, 3-1, winning all three games Antetokounmpo played in.
Three Things Learned
-No Answer For Giannis: Welcome to the rest of the NBA, Pacers. No one has an answer for Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks this season. The Pacers were getting the Bucks at the worst time possible on Wednesday. Milwaukee had just come off of back-to-back games where they scored less than 100—the first time all season they hadn’t scored 100 in a game. Indiana tried Myles Turner on Antetokounmpo and even Domantas Sabonis. The success was non-existent. If it weren’t for the Bucks shooting an uncharacteristic 28 percent from 3, they would have been sniffing 130 points. Fortunately for the Pacers, the only time they will see the Bucks again this season is in the second round (or further) of the playoffs, which would then mean Indiana had a successful season.
-Brogdon Leaves Game With Hip Injury: Despite Victor Oladipo practicing on Tuesday, lingering knee swelling kept him from playing on Wednesday night. Oladipo has now missed 4 of the past 6 games. Well, Oladipo’s backcourt mate joined him in the locker room for Wednesday’s second half. Malcolm Brogdon left Wednesday’s loss after 11 minutes with a sore hip, which he hurt in trying to close out on Khris Middleton. Brogdon tried to loosen his hip up and return for the second half, but that didn’t occur. If Brogdon sits out Friday’s game in Chicago, he will have missed 15 of 63 games this season. Now, we know injuries were the biggest red flag about the Pacers acquiring Brogdon. He missed 7 games as a rookie, 34 games in his second season and 26 games last year (including 8 missed in the playoffs). The injuries for Brogdon this season have included a back, thumb and now a hip. It goes without saying how vital it is for Indiana to get their two lead guards back, and together, to challenge for any homecourt.
-Bench Rebounds: It should be commended that the Pacers did get back in the game on Wednesday. While they never led, Indiana did erase a 22-point deficit in the first quarter, and tied the score early in the third period. What got the Pacers back in the game was their bench unit providing the spark. Doug McDermott continued his strong play away from home, with 16 points off the bench. It’s amazing what playing with the likes of T.J. McConnell and Domantas Sabonis has done for McDermott’s resurgence this season. On Wednesday, McConnell scored 16 points and had 6 assists. The Pacers bench had struggled a bit as of late, but they gave Indiana a much-needed lift on Wednesday.
Pacers Upcoming Schedule
-at Bulls 3/6 (Friday)
-at Mavericks 3/8 (Sunday)
-Celtics 3/10 (Tuesday)
-at 76ers 3/14 (Saturday)
-Warriors 3/18 (Wednesday)