On Wednesday, the Milwaukee Bucks and the Indiana Pacers will face off for the third of four meetings this season. The Central Division rivals have split the season series so far at one game apiece.
This meeting, a home game for the Pacers, features two of the strongest teams in the Eastern Conference. The Bucks lead not only the East, but also have the best record in the entire NBA.
Giannis Antetokounmpo leads the team with 27 points, 12 rebounds and nearly six assists per game, putting him in the MVP conversation.
To surround The Greek Freak, the Bucks have a strong roster and recently got even better via trade. The Bucks added Nikola Mirotic, making them one of the big winners in the East at the deadline.
Mirotic, Eric Bledsoe, Malcolm Brogdan and Khris Middleton, a first-time All-Star, make for a deep and talented supporting cast.
The Pacers recently lost All-Star guard Victor Oladipo for the rest of the year following a knee injury. However, that hasn’t slowed the team down. Coming into the game against Milwaukee, Indiana has won six games in a row.
The Pacers’ success comes down to depth. Outside of Oladipo, the Pacers have six other players who average double figures in scoring. Since losing their best player, the Pacers have signed wing player Wesley Matthews, who was bought out by New York after being traded by Dallas.
Not only are these two teams close in the standings, they also match up evenly. Milwaukee ranks second in the NBA in team points per game at 117.1, behind only Golden State. Indiana, while 22nd in scoring, ranks first in opponent’s points per game at 102.8.
Two deep teams; one dominant defensively, the other dominant on offense. Both of these young teams have surprised many with their performances this year. Who will come away with the win?
This matchup between the Bucks and Pacers could largely be decided by the teams’ newest additions: Mirotic and Matthews. Mirotic opens up another scoring option for the Bucks, as Pacers coach Nate McMillan will likely try and keep Antetokounmpo contained early. Mirotic has yet to make his debut for the Milwaukee.
The Pacers are going to have to step up their scoring to keep up with the Bucks. Matthews scored only eight points in his Pacers debut, but is averaging nearly 13 points on the season. Getting him integrated into the offense will be important for the team moving forward.
Also, look for the matchup of big men. Myles Turner and Brook Lopez could swing this game, depending on which center outplays the other.
Milwaukee’s offense will be too much for the Pacers, even at home. Expect a close game in this playoff preview. 114-108.