An angry point guard hitting a game-winner, an explosive bench, and a unforeseen talent outburst from a young big man. What happens when you add these three things together? A 4-2 start for the Bucks. While the Bucks have looked solid and fearless on the road, they’ve lost two straight at the BMO Harris Bradley Center and will look to end that streak tonight against division rival Indiana.
Pacers: George Hill, Lance Stephenson, Paul George, David West, Roy Hibbert
Bucks: Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis, Tobias Harris, Ersan Ilyasova, Samuel Dalembert
The Pacers have taken a tight grasp on this inter-division rivalry recently, winning the last five games against the Bucks, including the last three in Milwaukee. The Pacers won all three battles last year by an average margin of victory of 12 points. They came in to this season with high expectations after taking the 3-seed in the East last season. Those hopes were dampened a bit last week when it was announced their unsung leader Danny Granger was to miss 3 months with a sore knee.
The particular Pacer that the Bucks have had big dilemmas with is center Roy Hibbert. Against the Bucks last season, the 7’2″ big man averaged 17 pts and 9.3 rebounds per game. Defensively, Skiles had no answer for Hibbert’s length and skill in the post. You can safely say Hibbert’s dominance was a large part in the Bucks’ urgency to trade for Samuel Dalembert this off-season. Hibbert has had a slow start to this season though, as his numbers from last year have significantly decreased.
Emotions ran high last time these two teams met, as a simple tangle-up between Larry Sanders and Danny Granger almost resulted in an all-out brawl. Larry Sanders was clearly upset with a foul called on him, and after a few dirty words from George Hill, he nearly lost his mind. After being contained by Luc Mbah a Moute, Sanders shook Luc off and ran towards the Pacers again before being grabbed and taken to the locker room. Play between these two teams has been chippy.
The Pacers have had a lethargic start to their 2012-2013 campaign, starting off to a 3-5 record going 1-4 on the road. Indiana lost a heartbreaker at home last night, falling 74-72 to the now 2-6 Toronto Raptors. Indiana shot just 33%, going 24-75 in the game. Ouch. The Pacers missed 5 potential game-winning or tying shots in the last 20 seconds, and the Raptors held on for their 2nd road win of the season. This comes as great news to the Bucks, who will gladly welcome this fatigued and discouraged Pacers team to Milwaukee.
On paper, this seems like a game the Bucks should win. Adding up all the factors- Granger injured coupled with a tough loss at home last night- there’s no reason the Bucks can’t start out their season 5-2 and get back to .500 at home. However, Indiana always seems to play their best against the Deer, and the Bucks always seem to struggle against the defensive minded Pacer squad. We’ll have to see if this Bucks team can compete with Indiana this year.
In other news, the 2013 NBA All-Star ballot was released yesterday. Listed below are the Bucks who made the ballot:
Frountcourt- Samuel Dalembert
Frountcourt- Ersan Ilyasova
Guard- Monta Ellis
Guard- Brandon Jennings
I found it a bit surprising that despite his solid start, Larry Sanders didn’t make the cut, and that Sammy D did. With Derrick Rose hurt, Brandon Jennings will have a legitimate shot of making the team, and with his performances thus far, he certainly deserves it. Also, the East doesn’t have many elite shooting guards, so it’s not completely unrealistic to think Monta Ellis might make it too.