Buddy Hield
(NBAE/Getty Images)

Game Preview: Pacers vs Bucks

Friday, Jan. 27 at 7:00 PM ET at Gainbridge Fieldhouse

Pacers vs Bucks
Game Preview

The Pacers (24-26) are back at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on Friday for a marquee matchup with two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks (31-17).

The Pacers have dropped eight of nine games with star point guard Tyrese Haliburton sidelined, but they've played better over the last week. Indiana picked up a come-from-behind win over Chicago on Tuesday and was competitive until the final minutes in losses on Saturday in Phoenix and Wednesday in Orlando.

One clear reason for the Pacers being more competitive over the past week has been the play of rookie guard Bennedict Mathurin. Head coach Rick Carlisle moved Mathurin back to the bench role he's played most of the season and he's responded with arguably the best three-game stretch of his young career.

Mathurin has topped 20 points in each of the last three contests, scoring 23 in Phoenix and then 26 against both the Bulls and the Magic. The 20-year-old continues to show an uncanny ability to get to the free throw line, going 26-for-30 from the charity stripe over that span.

Though Indiana and Milwaukee played recently, Friday's matchup will have a different feel. The Bucks didn't have Giannis Antetokounmpo or All-Star forward Khris Middleton when the two teams met in Milwaukee on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but both players have recently returned.

Antetokounmpo returned to action on Monday after missing five games with sore knee and has been his usual dominant self, averaging 31 points and 13 rebounds in a pair of wins over Detroit and Denver and attempting an astounding 39 free throws over those two contests. The Greek Freak is earning serious consideration for a third MVP award, as he currently ranks fourth in the league in scoring (31 points per game) and second in rebounding (12 per contest).

Middleton, meanwhile, is easing his way back into the rotation. The 31-year-old swingman didn't make his season debut until Dec. 2 after undergoing offseason wrist surgery, then only appeared in seven games before being shut down after Dec. 15 with knee soreness. Middleton also returned on Monday and has played 15 minutes off the bench in each of the Bucks' last two contests, going 2-for-4 from 3-point range in each game.

Projected Starters

Pacers: G - T.J. McConnell,  G - Chris Duarte, F - Buddy Hield, F - Aaron Nesmith, C - Myles Turner

Bucks: G - Jrue Holiday,  G - Grayson Allen, F - Pat Connaughton, F - Giannis Antetokounmpo, C - Brook Lopez

Injury Report

Pacers: Andrew Nembhard - questionable (non-COVID illness), Aaron Nesmith - questionable (sore right wrist), Myles Turner - questionable (right ankle sprain), Tyrese Haliburton - out (left knee/elbow sprains), Daniel Theis - out (right knee surgery)

Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo - probable (sore right knee), MarJon Beauchamp - questionable (right patella tendinitis), AJ Green - questionable (sore left ankle), Serge Ibaka - not with team, Bobby Portis Jr. - out (right knee sprain)

Last Meeting

Jan. 16, 2022: T.J. McConnell put on a show in the first half in Milwaukee, scoring a career-best 25 points before halftime, going 9-for-9 from the field and 4-for-4 from 3-point range to propel Indiana to a 76-65 lead at the intermission.

Unfortunately, McConnell and the Pacers ran out of gas in the second half, as the Bucks made 23 3-pointers and picked up a 132-119 win.

Myles Turner had 30 points for Indiana on 11-of-17 shooting (5-of-9 from 3-point range), eight rebounds, and four blocks in his first game back after missing the last three contests with back spasms.

McConnell added 29 points, five rebounds, nine assists, and three steals off the bench, setting career highs for points and 3-pointers made.

But with Antetokounmpo and Middleton both sidelined, Bucks guard Jrue Holiday stepped up to lead Milwaukee to victory. The veteran point guard had a game-high 35 points, going 13-for-19 from the field and 5-for-8 from 3-point range, and also dished out 11 assists.

  • The Pacers have lost nine straight games against Milwaukee. Their last win over the Bucks was at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on Feb. 12, 2020.
  • After Friday, the two Central Division rivals will meet twice more this season: on March 16 in Milwaukee and on March 29 in Indianapolis.
  • Friday's matchup will feature two of the six most prolific 3-point shooting teams in the NBA. The Bucks rank fifth in both 3-point attempts (39.5) and makes (14.2) per game, while the Pacers are sixth (13.9 makes on 38.4 attempts per contest).
Broadcast Information (TV and Radio Listings >>)

TV: Bally Sports Indiana - Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Jeremiah Johnson (sideline reporter/host)

Radio: 93.5/107.5 The Fan - Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Eddie Gill (analyst), Pat Boylan (sideline reporter/host)


The Pacers return to Gainbridge Fieldhouse to take on Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday, Jan. 27 at 7:00 PM ET. Find Tickets >>