Pacers at Bucks

McMillan on Team Defense vs Giannis

December 21, 2019 - Pacers head coach Nate McMillan talked about the challenges of defending the reigning MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo.

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McMillan on Team Defense vs Giannis

December 21, 2019 - Pacers head coach Nate McMillan talked about the challenges of defending the reigning MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Dec 21, 2019  |  01:09

Game Preview: Pacers at Bucks

Sunday, December 22, 2019 at 7:00 PM ET at Fiserv Forum
by Brendan Rourke
Pacers.com Contributor

Matchup

On Sunday, the Pacers (20-9) have a chance to stretch their win streak to a season-high six games. However, it will be a difficult task. It just so happens they'll be playing the NBA's current top team, the Milwaukee Bucks (26-4), on the road at Fiserv Forum.

There are few negatives to point out about the Bucks so far this season. They compiled a 17-game winning streak this season from Nov. 10 to Dec. 14. After dropping a narrow game to the Dallas Mavericks on Dec. 16, they bounced back to knock off Anthony Davis and the L.A. Lakers in primetime last Thursday night.

Giannis Antetokounmpo is having another MVP-caliber season, and is second in the NBA in scoring (31.4 points per game). In addition, he is also averaging a career-high 12.7 rebounds per game, good enough for seventh-best in the league. Complimenting Antetokoumpko is Khris Middleton, who is averaging a career-high 18.2 points per game on 40.3 percent shooting from beyond the arc.

As a team, Milwaukee has the league's third-ranked offense (averaging 114.4 points per 100 possessions) and the top-ranked defense, holding teams to just 101.9 points per 100 possessions. They are one of four NBA teams that rank in the top 10 in both categories. They top the league in rebounds per game (51.0), and rank seventh in assist to turnover ratio (1.75). On paper, they appear to be the most complete team in the NBA. Although they will be missing point guard Eric Bledsoe due to a right fibula avulsion fracture, they'll still be the toughest road challenge Indiana has had to date.

One thing that does fall into the Blue & Gold's favor is that this matchup will fall on the second game of a back-to-back for Milwaukee. However, that may not have much of an effect, but the Bucks easily handled the lowly New York Knicks on Saturday night.

It will take another balanced scoring night from the entire Pacers squad in order to knock off the Bucks on the road. The bench might have to find ways to score in bunches once Antetokounmpo and Middleton head off the court for a quick breather. As recent play suggests, they're plenty capable of doing so.

Projected Starters

Pacers: PG - Malcolm Brogdon, SG - Aaron Holiday, SF - T.J. Warren, PF - Domantas Sabonis, C - Myles Turner
Bucks: PG - Donte DiVincenzo, SG - Wesley Matthews, SF - Khris Middleton, PF - Giannis Antetokounmpo, C - Brook Lopez

Injury Report

Pacers: Jeremy Lamb - questionable (sore right groin), Domantas Sabonis - questionable (sore left hip), Naz Mitrou-Long - out (sprained right ankle), (Victor Oladipo - out (right knee surgery rehab)

Bucks: Wesley Matthews - probable (right thigh contusion), George Hill - questionable (right thigh contusion), Dragan Bender - out (right ankle sprain), Eric Bledsoe - out (right fibula avulsion fracture)

Last Meeting

November 16, 2019: With Malcolm Brogdon, T.J. McConnell, Jeremy Lamb, Edmond Sumner, and Victor Oladipo all nursing injuries, Milwaukee took care of Indiana with ease, 102-83 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Indiana managed to close the gap to 71-63 heading into the fourth on an 11-4 run. But they failed to complete the comeback after Sterling Brown drilled a couple of 3-pointers early in the fourth to give the Bucks more breathing room. A 3-pointer from Donte DiVincenzo with 6:38 remaining put the Bucks ahead by 18 and essentially sealed the game.

In his first game back from rolling his ankle, Myles Turner led all Pacers with 16 points and snagged 11 rebounds. T.J. Warren added 15, while Domantas Sabonis tallied 11 points and 14 rebounds in the loss. Meanwhile, Giannis Antetokounmpo recorded 26 points, 13 rebounds, and six assists in just 28 minutes.

"I thought our effort was there, but they did what you're supposed to do when a team is battling a situation like we're battling," Pacers head coach Nate McMillan said. "You don't allow them confidence, you pressure them...and they did that."

Noteworthy

  • Milwaukee's George Hill is an Indianapolis native and played collegiately at IUPUI He played five seasons with the Pacers from 2011-16, appearing in 319 games (270 starts). He averaged 12.3 points, 3.9 assists, and 3.7 rebounds per game as a Pacer.
  • After missing the previous meeting with a sore back, Malcolm Brogdon will play his first game against his former team on Sunday night. Brogdon averaged 12.8 points, 3.6 assists, and 3.5 rebounds in 187 games (112 starts) over three seasons with Milwaukee.
  • Bucks guard Wesley Matthews played the final 23 games of the 2018-19 season with the Pacers. In those 23 games (all starts), Matthews averaged 10.9 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 2.4 assists in 31.5 minutes per game.

Tickets

The Pacers return to Bankers Life Fieldhouse to host Kyle Lowry and Toronto Raptors on Monday, Dec. 23 at 7:00 PM ET. Find Tickets »

Broadcast Information TV & Radio Listings »

TV: FOX Sports Indiana/NBA TV - Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Jeremiah Johnson (sideline reporter/host)
Radio: 93.5/107.5 FM/1070 AM The Fan - Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Pat Boylan (studio host)





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