The Indiana Pacers (42-23) look to even their season series tonight vs. the home standing Milwaukee Bucks (48-16). Led by MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo’s dynamic play, Milwaukee holds a 2-1 advantage this year against the overachieving Pacers. After dropping a late-October encounter 118-110 vs. Indiana, the Bucks have beaten the Pacers twice from Conseco Fieldhouse. Most recently, Antetokounmpo’s triple double (33 pts, 19 rebs, 11 ast) spurred Milwaukee’s Feb. 22, 106-97 win opposite an offensively challenged Pacers squad. Even still, Indiana has surprised with a 10-6 record since All Star Victor Oladipo’s season-ending injury. Pacers Forward Domantas Sabonis (ankle) is ruled out for tonight’s contest. Milwaukee opened as a 10.5 point favorite. The early total is 222.
When Oladipo ruptured his quadriceps Jan. 28 many analysts forecast an immediate Pacers decline. However, led by Bojan Bogdanovic, Wes Matthews, and Myles Turner, Indiana has kept pace and currently occupies the East’s #3 position. With Bogdanovic’s continued hot-shooting (9-of-14 FG, 27 PTS) Tuesday, Indiana downed Chicago 105-96. Overall, the Pacers’ top-ranked defense held the Bulls to 38% FGM. Indiana is 2-3 in its last five starts while faltering a bit defensively against middling competition. Though, the Pacers are just one of five teams to beat Milwaukee on the Bucks’ floor this season.
Led by the league’s most versatile talent, Milwaukee is an odds-on favorite to represent the Eastern Conference in this year’s NBA Finals. That stated, the Bucks enter tonight’s contest after losing consecutive games for the first time this season. Monday, the Suns shocked Milwaukee 114-105.
Antetokounmpo (21 PTS, 13 REBS) was held under his usual averages while his teammates struggled during the Bucks’ subpar 36.8% FG display. Meanwhile, sparked by Kelly Oubre Jr. (27 PTS) and Devin Booker (22 PTS), 14-51 Phoenix offered its home fans a rare treat during an otherwise rocky 18-19’ campaign. Don’t expect Milwaukee to shrug off their latest defeat —the Bucks will be hitting on all cylinders tonight against Indiana.
-Milwaukee is 25-5 SU this season at home
-Indiana is 17-14 SU this season away
-Milwaukee is 17-12-1 this season ATS at home
-Indiana is 13-17-1 this season ATS away
-Milwaukee averages 117.3 points
-Indiana averages 108 points
-Indiana allows 103.7 points
-Milwaukee allows 108.2 points
Minus Domantas Sabonis (14 PPG, 9 REB), the offensively anemic Pacers will struggle to generate points vs. the league’s #1 defense. Further, Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe, and Brook Lopez should perform well at home while Giannis Antetokounmpo becomes a two-way dillema Indiana has no chance to contain. With the playoffs within shouting distance, Milwaukee will make a resounding statement tonight vs. an upper-tier eastern squad.
FINAL SCORE: Bucks-115 Pacers-102