Despite the Milwaukee Bucks (46-8) missing the services of leading scorer and rebounder Giannis Antetokounmpo (30.0 rpg, 13.5 rpg), the Indiana Pacers (31-23) remained unfazed. The Blue and Gold wanted nothing more than a win over the league-leading Bucks at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on February 12 to end a six-game losing streak (including a five-game skid at home).
Mission accomplished. Behind the exploits of T.J. Warren (35 points on 16-of-19 shooting), Indiana beat Milwaukee, 118-111.
However, the Bucks didn’t go down without a fight. Antetokounmpo, the NBA’s reigning MVP, missed the game to attend to his newborn son while his teammates (led by Donte DiVincenzo’s 19 points off the bench) picked up the slack for him.
The Pacers got off to a rip-roaring start with Warren and Myles Turner combining for 15 first-quarter points and Indiana led after 12 minutes of play, 34-20.
Indiana continued its breakneck pace in the second quarter. All-Star forward Domantas Sabonis scored 10 points in the first five minutes for a 51-27 lead and the Pacers went on a 9-2 run for a 68-45 lead at halftime.
The Bucks’ defense held serve in the third quarter. They limited Indiana to a paltry 14-point output during that stretch. Meanwhile, Milwaukee scored 26 points. The Bucks converted six triples in the third quarter to trim the deficit to 82-71.
The fourth quarter was a shootout – the two squads combined for 72 points. Warren scored 13 points to thwart Milwaukee’s valiant comeback. The Bucks trailed by just five, 82-77, after Sterling Brown converted a layup in the opening minute.
However, Warren’s three-pointer with 7:26 left doused water on the Bucks’ comeback attempt. That bucket gave Indiana a 96-86 lead. The Pacers wouldn’t relinquish their double-digit lead until the remaining seconds of the game.
Point guard Malcolm Brogdon complemented Warren nicely with 17 points and 13 assists. Sabonis scored 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds for the Pacers.
The Bucks had six players score in double digits. Gunners Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe scored 17 points and 15 points, respectively, in a losing effort.
Pacers Odds Trend Up Against New York Knicks
The Indiana Pacers (32-23) have revenge on their minds when they square off against their fierce rivals, the New York Knicks (17-38), at Madison Square Garden on February 21.
Behind Marcus Morris, Sr.’s 28 points, New York beat Indiana, 92-85, on February 1. That loss threw Indiana off the pace – it set off a six-game losing streak for the Blue and Gold. Consequently, the Pacers lost most of their momentum heading into the All-Star break.
With Morris now playing for the Los Angeles Clippers, the Knicks will rely mainly on the duo of Julius Randle (19.3 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 3.2 apg) and rookie R.J. Barrett (13.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 2.4 apg).
As for the Pacers, they will lean on T.J. Warren (18.5 ppg), Domants Sabonis (18.3 ppg, 12.5 rpg, 4.8 apg), and Malcolm Brogdon (16.6 pg, 4.7 rpg, 7.3 apg) once again.
Victor Oladipo, the face of the franchise, has been averaging 11.1 points since he returned from a year-long absence on January 29. He hasn’t been shooting well (33.8 percent from the field, 26.5 percent from the three-point area). That’s expected since he’s still groping for form. Hopefully, the All-Star break served him well.
Pacers odds, Pacers moneyline, and Pacers over/under favor Indiana because of its superior record. The Knicks have the fifth-worst record in the NBA. It’s a sure bet they will enter the lottery for a seventh straight year.