With their victory on Tuesday, the Milwaukee Bucks became the first NBA team to secure a playoff spot. On Thursday, they play host to the Indiana Pacers, who are attempting to earn a play-in spot, at home.
The Bucks defeated the Phoenix Suns 116-104 on the second night of a road doubleheader, largely due to Giannis Antetokounmpo’s close to triple-double: Eight rebounds, 36 points, and 11 rebounds.
When Antetokounmpo plays in both games, the Bucks are now 9-1 when they play in consecutive games. Jrue Holiday had 12 points and five assists, and Bobby Portis and Jae Crowder each scored 11 off the bench. Brook Lopez had 21 points and 10 rebounds. Jrue Holiday had 12 points and 5 assists.
After defeating the Pistons 121-115 on Saturday, Indiana is coming off a road loss to the Detroit Pistons on Monday night by a score of 117-97. In his 11th game with Indiana, Jordan Nwora scored 20 points to lead the Pacers.
In the massive four-team trade on February 9 that brought Crowder to Milwaukee from the Phoenix Suns, Nwora was traded from the Bucks to the Pacers.
In a game in which the Pacers were without numerous key players, including Tyrese Haliburton (knee), Benedict Mathurin (ankle), and Myles Turner (back), Aaron Nesmith and Andrew Nembhard each scored 15 points in front of Nwora.
With 31.5 points and 11.9 rebounds per game this season, Antetokounmpo leads the Bucks. Occasion leads with 7.2 helps and 1.2 takes while Creek Lopez is among the association chiefs in blocks with 2.5.
Haliburton has the most assists in the NBA and leads Indiana in points (20.8), assists (10.4), and steals (1.6). With 7.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks, Myles Turner causes trouble for Pacers opponents in the low post.
On Tuesday, the Bucks were without Grayson Allen (plantar fasciitis) and Khris Middleton (knee management). After being signed as a free agent on March 4, Goran Dragic has not yet made his team debut due to a knee injury.
Five Pacers players are listed as day-to-day, including Mathurin, who Carlisle said is “making real positive strides with his rehab” on Monday. However, Carlisle declined to provide a return date. Turner, Haliburton, T.J. McConnell (back), Chris Duarte (ankle), and Haliburton are all listed as day-to-day.
This is the third of four games this season between these division rivals, and Milwaukee wants to beat Indiana for the 11th time in a row. Milwaukee also holds the all-time series lead, 113-91, over the Pacers, who last won the series in 2017-18.