Pacers at Bucks

Game Preview presented by Jiffy Lube

Game Preview: Pacers at Bucks

Wednesday, January 3, 2018 at 8:00 PM ET at BMO Harris Bradley Center
by Greg Rappaport
Pacers.com Writer
@Greg_Rappaport

Matchup

With 2017 a thing of the past, the Pacers aim to open their new year with a win against the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night.

Just weeks ago, the Pacers (19-18) were a team on a roll, well above .500 and seemingly ascending. But a stretch of tough opponents combined with offensive woes and the unexpected absence of Victor Oladipo (sore right knee) has knocked Indiana down the standings in the Eastern Conference. After losing four consecutive games, the Pacers are searching for answers as they try to find the winning formula that sustained them for the first third of the season.

During their New Year's Eve loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, all of the Pacers' problems of late came to the forefront — slow starts, stale ball movement, and a lack of a go-to scorer for offense when nothing else is working.

"We obviously lost a rhythm and have to stay together and continue to work," said Pacers head coach Nate McMillan after the game. "You know, getting off to these slow starts, and we certainly look like we've lost a little confidence and we're going to take tomorrow off and mentally and physically try to rest, come back and just stay together."

When they take to the road to face All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks (19-16), the Pacers will have to find a way to avoid some of the issues that have plagued them of late, with their division foe Milwaukee starting to surge after an underwhelming start to the year. The Bucks have won two of their last three games (Timberwolves and Thunder), but lost their most recent game in overtime to the 25-10 Raptors.

Aside from the otherworldly play of Antetokoumnpo — who leads his team in points, assists, and rebounds — the Bucks have been aided by the acquisition of Suns point guard Eric Bledsoe, who has meshed with his new team to form one of the NBA's most formidable offensive attacks.

Milwaukee's offense ranks third in the NBA in field goal percentage (48.2 percent), doing a large amount of damage inside the paint and from the midrange. Defending the paint could be a deciding factor in Wednesday's meeting, where the Bucks average 47.1 points per game, the sixth-highest mark in the league.

Projected Starters

Pacers: PG - Darren Collison, SG - Lance Stephenson, SF - Bojan Bogdanovic, PF - Thaddeus Young, C - Myles Turner
Bucks: PG - Eric Bledsoe, SG - Tony Snell, SF - Khris Middleton, PF - Giannis Antetokounmpo, C - John Henson

Injury Report

Pacers: Victor Oladipo - out (sore right knee), Glenn Robinson III - out (left ankle surgery rehabilitation), Edmond Sumner - out (left knee surgery rehabilitation)

Bucks: Jabari Parker - out (post-surgery, left knee), Mizra Teletovic - out (pulminary emboli)

Last Meeting

April 6, 2017: With the season winding down and the playoff race heating up, the Pacers used an overpowering second half to grab a 104-89 win against the Milwaukee Bucks at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

For the Pacers, Paul George was a force, racking up 23 points and 10 rebounds. Lance Stephenson, who had only recently rejoined the team, scored nine points and dished out five assits in the win.

"We kept getting stops," explained Kevin Seraphin, who scored 11 points off the bench. "We were working together and we were connected tonight. We played as a team and we just kept getting stops. We just did a good job and we need to keep playing."

The Pacers pulled away in the fourth quarter, overcoming a 25-point, seven-rebound, six-assist night from the Bucks' do-everything All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Noteworthy

  • The Bucks lead the all-time series, 97-86.
  • Wednesday's game is the first of four meetings between the Bucks and Pacers.
  • Pacers forward Bojan Bogdanovic and Bucks guard Sean Kilpatrick were teammates on the Brooklyn Nets last season.

Tickets

Following their trip to Milwaukee, the Pacers return home for a meeting against the suddenly-hot Chicago Bulls on Saturday, January 6 at 7:00 PM ET. Find Tickets »

Broadcast Information TV & Radio Listings »

TV: FOX Sports Indiana - Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Jeremiah Johnson (sideline reporter/host)
Radio: 107.5 FM/AM 1070 The Fan - Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Pat Boylan (studio host)