Desperate Pacers on outside looking in, host Bucks next
The Milwaukee Bucks continue their chase for the No. 1 overall seed in the East as they visit the play-in hopeful Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night.
Milwaukee (54-21) got back on track on the road Monday night, defeating the Detroit Pistons 126-117 without Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday.
A season-high 34 points from Khris Middleton led the Bucks along with a pair of double-doubles: 24 points and 14 rebounds from Brook Lopez and 21 points with 14 rebounds from Bobby Portis. Jevon Carter also added 22 points, shooting 6-for-8 from beyond the arc.
"With Giannis out, I knew I had to be aggressive," Middleton said. "I had to get to my spots and when I got there, I've either got to shoot or find the open man."
Indiana (33-43) hosts Milwaukee on a three-game losing skid after falling to the Dallas Mavericks 127-104 at home on Monday night. The Pacers, without their star trio of Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield and Myles Turner, were led by rookie Bennedict Mathurin's 26 points.
"They got going, and they got some real firepower. We need to have more resistance," Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle said. "He (Mathurin) needs to learn the responsibility of being a starter, guarding a top player and carrying a scoring load. The first 65 games of the season weren't like that, it's a great opportunity."
Holiday was not with the team in Detroit due to personal reasons while Antetokounmpo missed due to right knee soreness.
Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said before the Detroit game he wasn't sure if Holiday would be able to rejoin the team for Wednesday's game but the club didn't list the point guard on Tuesday's injury report. Antetokounmpo is listed as probable while Middleton (knee manaagement) is questionable.
Meanwhile, Milwaukee got its first minutes from Goran Dragic on Monday after being acquired and returning from a knee injury. Meyers Leonard, however, remains out with left calf soreness.
For Indiana, Haliburton (ankle, elbow) and Chris Duarte (ankle) have been ruled out, while Turner (ankle) is questionable.
Hield (non-COVID illness) is no longer on Indiana's injury list.
Antetokounmpo leads the Bucks with 31.1 points and 11.7 rebounds per game. Holiday leads with 7.3 assists and 1.2 steals while Brook Lopez blocks 2.5 shots per game.
Haliburton leads Indiana with 20.7 points, 10.4 assists as well as 1.6 steals per game. Myles Turner leads the charge down low, coming in second with 18 points and leading with 7.5 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game.
This will be the fourth and final matchup between the teams as the Pacers look for a 2-2 split. Indiana ended Milwaukee's 10-game winning streak against them in the previous matchup in Milwaukee on March 16, 139-123.
The Bucks still hold the all-time series lead 113-92.
Milwaukee has the best record in the league, two games up on Boston for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference with seven games remaining, heading into Tuesday's action.
The Pacers are currently 12th in the East, with just six games left for them. They're four games back in the loss column to Chicago for the 10th and final play-in spot, with the Wizards in front of them as well.
--Field Level Media
Updated March 28, 2023