Jordan Nwora
(NBAE/Getty Images)

Game Preview: Pacers at Bucks

Thursday, March 16 at 8:00 PM ET at Fiserv Forum

Game Preview

There’s no better time to stop the skid against the Milwaukee Bucks than now.

With just 13 games left on the regular season schedule, and the squad still in the postseason hunt, the Indiana Pacers (31-38) can stop a 10-game losing streak to the Bucks (50-19) on Thursday at Fiserv Forum.

Milwaukee, winners of the Central Division for four straight seasons, who are also currently the No. 1 seed in the East, have been a thorn in the Pacers’ side in recent years. The last time the Blue & Gold beat the Bucks was in February 2020.

Indiana is currently a game back of the 10th and final spot for the Play-In Tournament. The top six teams in the East will automatically make the playoffs while seeds seven through 10 advance to the Play-In.

PLAYOFF PICTURE: Track the Latest Standings, Remaining Schedules, and More >>

The Pacers enter the matchup coming off a disappointing Monday night loss to the last-place Detroit Pistons. The Pacers are 6-4 over their last 10 games but have won two of the last three.

Against Detroit the Pacers were without multiple key players, as All-Star point guard Tyrese Haliburton, veteran center Myles Turner, and bench guards T.J. McConnell and Bennedict Mathurin all sat out. Mathurin has been out since he sprained his right ankle on March 9 against the Houston Rockets while Haliburton, Turner and McConnell sat out the last two games.

Indiana played Detroit twice in three days in the Motor City, with the teams splitting games. In the most recent game, the Pistons led by as many as 31 points in the first half before holding on for the win.

Jordan Nwora came off the bench and scored 20 points while rookie Andrew Nembhard and forward Aaron Nesmith each provided 15 points for the Pacers.

The good news for the Pacers is they’ve had three days rest while the Bucks enter the game playing a late game on Tuesday night in Phoenix. Against the Suns, the Bucks came away with a 116-104 win behind another standout performance by Giannis Antetokounmpo, who tallied 36 points, 11 rebounds, and eight assists. 

Milwaukee has been dominant dating back to a few weeks before the All-Star break, going 21-2 since Jan. 23, with their only losses over that span being a three-point defeat to Philadelphia on March 4 and an overtime loss at Golden State last Saturday.

A point of emphasis will need to be on rebounding for the Pacers, as they rank 23rd in rebounds per game (41.5) while the Bucks are first in that category (49.0). The Bucks are also tough defensively, boasting the third-best defensive rating in the league (109.7).

Antetokounmpo, a two-time NBA MVP, has continued to exert his dominance in the league, averaging 31.5 points (fourth in the NBA), 11.9 rebounds (second) and 5.5 assists this season.

Both teams like to let it fly from deep, as the Bucks have drained the fourth most 3-pointers (14.8 per game) this season and the Pacers are fifth (13.8).

Indiana will need to find a way to slow the Bucks down, as they’ve scored at least 132 points in each of the first two games.

The teams will conclude the regular season series on March 29 in Indianapolis.

Projected Starters

Pacers:  G - Tyrese Haliburton, G - Andrew Nembhard, F - Buddy Hield, F - Aaron Nesmith, C - Myles Turner

Bucks: G - Jrue Holiday, G - Pat Connaughton, F - Khris Middleton, F - Giannis Antetokounmpo, C - Brook Lopez

Injury Report

Pacers:  Tyrese Haliburton - questionable (right ankle sprain), Buddy Hield - questionable (sore left foot), T.J. McConnell - questionable (sore lower back), Myles Turner - questionable (sore lower back), Kendall Brown - out (right tibia stress fracture), Chris Duarte - out (sore left ankle), Bennedict Mathurin - out (right ankle sprain)

Bucks: Jae Crowder - questionable (sore left calf), Goran Dragic - questionable (sore left knee), Brook Lopez - questionable (sore left ankle), Grayson Allen - out (sore right plantar fascia), Thanasis Antetokounmpo - out (not with team)

Last Meeting

Jan. 27, 2023: The Pacers were able to narrow a 33-point deficit to the Bucks to seven points, but couldn’t complete the comeback in a 141-131 loss in Indianapolis.

Milwaukee led 85-56 at halftime before the Pacers dropped 43 points in the third quarter to get back into the game. The Blue & Gold got it to seven points with 2:06 remaining, but the Bucks closed it out from there.

Turner, who scored 30 in the first matchup between the two teams, led the Pacers again with 24 points while Buddy Hield scored 22 and Mathurin chipped in 21 points off the bench. Haliburton also did not play in this contest.

Antetokounmpo scored 41 points on 16-for-29 shooting while also collecting 12 rebounds and dishing out six assists and Jrue Holiday had 20 points, nine assists and nine rebounds.

Milwaukee won the rebounding margin 50-38 and made 18 3-pointers to the Pacers’ 13 from deep. Six players hit at least two 3-pointers each in the game led by four from Pat Connaughton.

  • Nwora will be going against his former team for the first time since being traded from the Bucks to the Pacers in February. He has scored in double figures in eight straight games for the Blue & Gold.
  • The Bucks have won four straight Central Division titles and have the most of any team in the division all-time (11). The record for most Central Division championships in a row is owned by the Bucks, which won six straight from 1981 to 1986.
  • Milwaukee owns an all-time regular season record of 113-91 against the Pacers.
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), Pat Boylan (studio host)


The Pacers return to Gainbridge Fieldhouse to host Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday, March 18 at 7:00 PM ET. Find Tickets >>