Three takeaways as Indiana Pacers give up late run and lose to Milwaukee Bucks
The Indiana Pacers kicked off a four-game road trip Monday in Milwaukee, taking on the 2021 NBA champion Bucks. The Bucks were without Giannis Antetokounmpo, which gave the Pacers a chance to grab a much-needed win.
Instead, the Pacers’ late-game defense was terrible. Even without Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton, Milwaukee scored 39 points for the fourth quarter and found an extra gear the Pacers didn’t have. Rather than taking a chance to get back on track, the Pacers fell flat late.
It ruined what could have been a stabilizing win for the Pacers. They were excellent in the first half, scoring 76 points and playing offensively. TJ McConnell had 25 points at halftime and the blues and golds rolled.
They also led by five after three quarters, leading 7:41 to go, 107-105. The Bucks dominated the rest of the game, scoring 27 points on the stretch while Indiana mustered just 12. Despite many impressive moments during the game, the Pacers came up short.
The Pacers have now lost four straight games for the first time all season. It’s understandable considering they’re struggling with injuries and without talented guard Tyrese Haliburton. But losses are losses, and Indiana is now just a game clear of ninth place in the East.
Three-point shooting changed this game. The Pacers made 19 of their 40 three-pointers, good for 47.5%. That’s good enough to win most nights. But Milwaukee batted down 23/46 from downtown to defeat the collapsing Pacers. The final result was 132-119.
The Pacers are now 23-22 and just starting a mini road trip. There are some things they need to fix in this game and they are among the takeaways from a tough defeat.
The Pacers defense stinks lately
In Indiana’s last three games, they’ve dropped 375 points with 309 possessions pbpstats. That’s good for a defensive rating of 121.4. For reference, the team with the worst defensive rating this season is the San Antonio Spurs with 119.5.
The Pacers have been really struggling to slow teams down lately. Milwaukee had 42 points in the paint and 23 made three as they picked apart blue and gold, and even when down by as much as 13, they never looked rushed or pressured.
Indiana were without defensive anchor Myles Turner in two of their last three games, but they still weren’t able to contain the players at the attacking center and looked separated with their closeouts. They need to clean up their defenses if they want to get back on track.
Indiana must win the possession battle without Haliburton
The Pacers were efficient offensively this game, but without Haliburton they’re generally a less efficient offensive team. You must maximize your number of possessions in each game as much as possible.
Today, they lost the rebound fight by four and allowed the Bucks to grab nine offensive rebounds. The Blue and Golds had 15 turnovers to Milwaukee’s 13. In the end, those stats combined gave the Bucks seven more shot attempts than the Pacers that night, and the teams took an equal number of free throws.
Catching extra looks won’t work during a game where the Bucks have downed a season-high 23 three-pointers and had 48 marks overall. The Pacers needed the ball more than they had it, and that hurt them that game.
TJ McConnell had a career night
Turner was returning from injury and was 30 points credited, but McConnell was the biggest bright spot for the Pacers today.
He’s had a career day in more ways than one. His most points in an NBA game prior to today was 23. Against the Bucks he had 29. To date he had never made more than three triples in a game when he made four. At halftime, he was at career highs on both stats — he had 25 points at the break and changed the Bucks’ defensive scheme.
In the end, the experienced guard combined his 29 points with five rebounds, nine assists and three steals. He was excellent and kept the Pacers in the game for most of the afternoon.
Indiana will try to get back on track Wednesday when they battle the Thunder in Oklahoma City.
- Tyrese Haliburton is suffering from a bruised left knee and a sprained left elbow and will be out for the Indiana Pacers for at least two weeks. CLICK HERE.
- The Indiana Pacers are reaching the halfway point of their season well above expectations. CLICK HERE.
- Oshae Brissett’s contract was fully guaranteed and was not canceled by the Indiana Pacers before the guarantee period expired. CLICK HERE.
- The Indiana Pacers have developed into one of the best clutch teams in the NBA. CLICK HERE.
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