Preview of the Milwaukee Bucks-Indiana Pacers game


Milwaukee Bucks

By Jake McCormick

After a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde showing in their Tuesday-Wednesday back-to-back, the Milwaukee Bucks have a good chance of building off the confidence and chemistry they showed in Wednesday’s overtime loss to the Boston Celtics.

The Detroit Lions are to the Green Bay Packers as the Indiana Pacers have been to the Milwaukee Bucks over the last year, and although the Pacers are improved, the Bucks should still continue their streak against their Central Division rival.

As much of a doormat as the Indiana Pacers have been under the Larry Bird front office, this is the most talented team they’ve had in years. Small forward Danny Granger averaged 21 points and 4.3 rebounds in four games against the Milwaukee Bucks in 2009-10.

Center Roy Hibbert has been more in tuned with his skills as a 7’2″ big man than ever in his NBA career (including 4.3 assists per game good for second on the team, thanks to the tutelage of legendary interior passer Bill Walton). Newly acquired point guard Darren Collison had his way with the Bucks last year, averaging 20 points and 8.5 assists in two games.

The Milwaukee Bucks have the advantage in one-on-one matchups, but we’ve already seen the highs and lows of their early season roller coaster in back-to-backs that has the Bucks sitting at 1-4, behind the 2-2- Pacers in the Central Division. Milwaukee gave Boston a run for their money Wednesday night after what can only be described as a putrid loss at home to the Portland Trail Blazers.

There’s really no way to tell whether the good or bad Bucks will show up Friday night at the Conseco Fieldhouse until the game starts.

Sometimes, even a heartbreaking loss can be encouraging.

Surprisingly, or unsurprisingly if you watch any Milwaukee Bucks/Boston Celtics games in 2009-10, the Bucks posted an impressive challenge to the original Big Three in Boston on Wednesday night, taking the defending Eastern Conference champions to overtime before succumbing to untimely turnovers.

Roy HibbertCenter Andrew Bogut had his best game to date, scoring 21 points and pulling down 13 boards, small forward Carlos Delfino hit a number of clutch shots inside and out to keep the game close, and the Bucks bench finally started showing some signs of life courtesy of point/shooting guard Keyon Dooling and power forward Ersan Ilyasova.

Although Milwaukee has been a model of inconsistency over its first five games, they had Indiana’s number last year, going 4-0 and edging out the Pacers in points (96.8 to 91.5), rebounds (44 to 41), and shooting percentage (43.4% to 41.3%), while forcing Indiana to commit an average of 15.3 turnovers per game. Through all the inconsistencies on offense, the Bucks have still played solid defense (8th overall in points allowed), while the Pacers are currently ranked 18th in the league.

Throw in the fact that Milwaukee has the advantage in the majority of one-on-one matchups against Indiana, and the chances of the Bucks pulling out their first road win of the season increase.

Even with a quality all around performance in a loss to the Boston Celtics, the Milwaukee Bucks are still 1-4 and have to win one of not both games this weekend to avoid falling further behind the Carlos Boozer-less Chicago Bulls.

The Pacers will show their new look early, but there really is no reason why the Bucks shouldn’t pull out a win on the road against their division rival. Roy Hibbert may be improving, but Andrew Bogut is a proven commodity and Milwaukee has enough size to keep him guessing.

Milwaukee’s biggest strength is their defense, and Indiana hasn’t been an offensive juggernaut or above average at anything (their highest statistical ranking as a team is 17th in assists). They are still young, and will show it at multiple points Friday night.

Which Bucks will show up is still a wild card, but the taste of what they could be against the defensively dominant Celtics Wednesday night should be strong enough to carry over against the clearly inferior Pacers.

Milwaukee looked to have turned the corner in Boston, to use a phrase populated during the Bush Administration, and have a gift of a matchup against the Indiana Pacers. The Bucks have an opportunity to build some momentum heading into Saturday night’s home tilt against the New Orleans Hornets and next week’s games against the New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks.

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  1. Hey Jake,

    Nice preview. I’m kind of upset I have to miss this game tonight because of work. I think we will learn a lot about the Pacers and Bucks in this game, more so than in the previous games.

    They are both teams who are searching for an identity. After the ugly loss in Philadelphia, Hibbert was pretty emotional in telling the rest of the team that they cannot play like that. A young team like the Pacers should respond.

    On the flip side, the Bucks have a lot of talent and are still trying to see how all the pieces fit together in the puzzle. The game with the Celtics was probably the best they’ve played all year. The Pacers probably can’t stack up defensively, but they can go on offensive runs to come from behind or stay in the game.

    I love the match-up between Hibbert who seems to be improving with every game and Andrew Bogut who looked great in Boston. Collison and Jennings should be great too.

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