Indiana Pacers vs Milwaukee Bucks

Image licensed from USA Today Sports

The Indiana Pacers (19-22) swept the Miami Heat with wins on Friday and yesterday, and now have to travel cross country to Milwaukee (27-14) to take on one of the Eastern Conference’s best teams. The Bucks enter tonight’s game on a six-game winning streak.

Two days after torching the Heat to the tune of 130 points, the Pacers needed overtime to earn the sweep in a 109-106 victory. The Pacers had seven players in double figures, but none over 20 points. Domantas Sabonis led the Pacers with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Myles Turner added 16 points and six rebounds, while Justin Holiday and Doug McDermott scored 15 points apiece. Indiana hit 15-of-45 three-point shots in the game.

Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton hit three key three pointers down the stretch to give the Bucks the separation they needed to beat the Spurs 120-113 on Saturday. Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 26 points, eight rebounds, and 15 assists. Jrue Holiday added 21 points in the win.

Milwaukee was an 8.5 point favorite when they won the first matchup 130-110 back on February 3rd. Giannis Antetokounmpo recorded a 21 point, 14 rebound, and 10 assist triple-double without playing in the fourth quarter. The Bucks led by as many as 40 in the final quarter. Domantas Sabonis led the Pacers with 33 points, 12 rebounds, and six assists.

Both teams are healthy entering tonight’s matchup. The Pacers are playing on no rest while having to travel from Miami to Milwaukee. The Bucks are playing on one day’s rest.

Time To See How Good the Pacers Are

The Indiana Pacers are one of my favorites to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference after a lackluster first half. The Pacers traded Victor Oladipo to Houston and added Caris LeVert, who was subsequently given medical leave to deal with a mass on his kidney. LeVert returned five games ago, and the Pacers have benefitted from having a third offensive creator and a lengthy defender. After taking two from Miami, Indiana will face off against a team that should make a deep run in the NBA playoffs.

The Pacers are led by Malcolm Brogdan and Domantas Sabonis. Sabonis has averaged 20.3 ppg, 11.3 rpg, and 6.4 apg. Brogdon has averaged 21.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg, and 6.2 apg while hitting 40.4% of his three-point attempts. Doug McDermott, a 37.3% three-point shooter, has averaged 13.4 ppg and 3.8 rpg.

Offensively, the Pacers are 12th in the NBA in effective field goal percentage (54.5%), 15th in turnover percentage (12.5%), 24th in offensive rebounding percentage (19.7%), and 22nd in free throws per field goal attempts (.183). Defensively, Indiana is 12th in opponent’s effective field goal percentage (53.6%), eighth in opponent turnover percentage (13.5%), 23rd in defensive rebounding percentage (76.5%), and 23rd in opponent’s free throws per field goal attempts (.207).

Bucks Look to Extend Winning Streak to Seven

The Bucks have been red hot since returning from the All-Star Break, having won their last six games entering tonight’s contest. Over the past 12 games, Milwaukee’s only loss has been to Denver. Their balanced lineup is clicking on all cylinders right now, and they are incredibly hard to guard.

The Bucks are led by all-everything Giannis Antetokounmpo, who has averaged 29.0 ppg, 11.7 rpg, and 6.4 apg. He is obviously a mismatch for every player on the Pacers. Now add to that Khris Middleton, who has averaged 20.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg, and 5.5 apg while hitting 42.3% from beyond the arc. Jrue Holiday has averaged 15.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg, and 4.9 apg to give the big two support.

As a team, the Bucks have an effective field goal percentage of 56.4%, fourth in the NBA. Milwaukee is seventh in the league in turnover percentage (12.1%), 10th in offensive rebounding percentage (23.3%), and 24th in free throws per field goal attempts (.176). Defensively, the Bucks are ninth in the NBA in opponent’s effective field goal percentage (53.1%), 25th in opponent turnover percentage (11.5%), first in defensive rebound percentage (80.5%), and first in opponent free throws per field goal attempts (.156)

The Bottom Line
What to bet on this game.

Full-Game Side Bet

Back on February 3, the Bucks absolutely destroyed the Pacers. Of course, Indiana was not playing well at the time, and their team complexion has changed. That being said, Milwaukee is still the much better team here. But, Indiana should keep it a little closer, maybe even enough to cover an extremely large spread. I think that happens, which is why I’m picking Indiana to cover.

Indiana +10.5

Want another opinion on this pick?


Full-Game Total Pick

Indiana will not cover if this is a high-scoring game. Their chance to cover and possibly win is to do it on the defensive end. It will be interesting to see how Caris LeVert changes the Pacers’ defensive strategy against Antetokuonmpo and the Bucks. The other problem is the Pacers are on a tough back-to-back and played an overtime game yesterday. The combination of tired legs and the tough Bucks defense should keep Indiana’s offense in check. I’m taking the UNDER here.

UNDER 231.5