at INDIANA PACERS
Tip-off: Monday, 7:00 p.m. ET
Line: N/A, Total: N/A
The Bucks and Pacers will be meeting in Indiana on Monday.
Both the Bucks and the Pacers are currently doing everything they can to climb up the Eastern Conference standings. The Bucks came into the season as one of the teams that many felt could contend in the conference. The Cavaliers were aging and things seemed to be wide open in the East. But Milwaukee struggled a bit, which forced the team to trade for PG Eric Bledsoe. The Bucks are now playing some good basketball, but the Pacers are not going to be an easy victory. Indiana has slipped a bit after a hot start to the year, but the Pacers compete hard every night. They also happen to be a lot better when playing at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. One thing that is worth pointing out when looking at this matchup is the fact that the Pacers have not been good defensively this season. Indiana gives up a ton of points, which doesnít bode well playing against a team that has some firepower offensively. Both teams are going to try to get up and down the floor in a hurry, but itís the Bucks that have shown the ability to get stops more often than the Pacers.
The Bucks arenít quite the contender that people expected them to be this season, but they have been playing a lot better since trading for Bledsoe. The Bucks did not have a traditional point guard in the starting lineup before acquiring him, so he has made life on the team a lot easier. His quickness to the basket demands attention from opponents, and he has taken a lot of pressure off of superstar SF Giannis Antetokounmpo. Antetokounmpo has played at an MVP-level this season, as he is averaging career highs in points, rebounds and field goal percentage. He is no longer just a lengthy athlete, and the game has slowed down significantly. This game should be a good one for him, as he torched the Pacers on Jan. 3. In that game, he had 31 points, nine rebounds, five assists, and two blocks in 29 minutes of action. It wouldnít be surprising if he were to put up similar numbers this time around. Two other guys that should be able to come through in this game are SF Khris Middleton and SG Malcolm Brogdon. Both guys are good on both sides of the court, as each can defend and both can shoot the three as well.
The Pacers have surprised people with their play this season and a lot of that has to do with the fact that SG Victor Oladipo has found his game in Indiana. Oladipo came over as the headliner of the Paul George trade this offseason, but people did not think that it was a good enough return for the Pacers. Clearly they knew something that everybody else didnít, as Oladipo is looking like an All-Star this season. He has, however, been dealing with a bad knee, so itíll be interesting to see whether or not he is a go in this one. And if he does play then there could be some rust involved. Another guy that came over in the Paul George trade was PF Domantas Sabonis. Sabonis is worth mentioning here because he had 24 points on 13 shots against the Bucks in the most recent meeting between the teams. Sabonis isnít a starter for Indiana, but he does get minutes and could get more because of the way he played last time. The Pacers will need good performances from both SG Lance Stephenson and C Myles Turner in this game, though. Both can be rather inconsistent, but they need to show up in order for Indiana to have a chance in this one.