Game in Review: Milwaukee Bucks @ Indiana Pacers – January 1


The Milwaukee Bucks finish 2015 with a bang, out-shooting the Indiana Pacers on the road in final game before the New Year.

Starting Lineups – Milwaukee Bucks: Michael Carter-Williams, Khris MiddletonGiannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, Greg Monroe

Indiana PacersGeorge Hill, Monta Ellis, CJ Miles, Paul George, Lavoy Allen

As the year 2015 winds to a close, for the Milwaukee Bucks it was a year that held every sort of high and low possible. A 2014-15 season that was meant to be a rebuilding year saw the Bucks in the playoffs taking the Chicago Bulls to six games. In the summer, the team announced the successful passing of a plan to fund a new arena to keep the team in Milwaukee permanently for the next few decades.

Of course, the 2015-16 season hasn’t lived fully up to expectations. Coming into tonight in Indianapolis to take on the Indiana Pacers, the team carries with them a 12-21 record with plenty of distance between them and a playoff berth. Ending the calendar year on a high note would be welcome, and a final chance presented itself.

The Pacers have been a surprise success this far into the year, and the return of Paul George has been a windfall for the team on the whole.

More from Bucks News

Right out of the gate, the Bucks decide to run a slow pace, but plenty of early Pacer turnovers opened up opportunities to run in transition. This allowed Giannis to repeatedly get to the line, and Indiana as a unit looked exhausted (which makes sense, given this was IND’s third game in four nights).

The Bucks took advantage of the slow-moving Pacers, but didn’t look exactly convincing, especially since they didn’t pull away in a meaningful way. Khris Middleton appeared to still be on with two early threes. Milwaukee then started to push the pace, and ended the first in the driver’s seat, 33-24.

Heading into the second quarter, the lead was large enough to allow for the Bucks to ease up a little bit, though the Pacers have the eighth fastest paced offense in the league, so a hard charging comeback was always a possibility. The offense was run primarily through Greg Monroe (who had noted success) or with the wings cutting directly to the basket (with less success).

With 6:59 left in the quarter, the Pacers were able to cut the lead to 41-34, though the Pacers’ insistence on playing small ball benefited Milwaukee. John Henson actually had a steady flow of minutes, especially making himself felt on the defensive end keeping Indiana forced to the outside. Unfortunately, the Pacers began to hit threes without abandon, and momentum began to favor the home team.

A timely Khris Middleton jumper gave the Bucks a 54-45 lead, and execution before the half could set the team up for a strong second half performance. While they found some offensive rhythm, the defense was forced directly on its back foot in part due to Indiana’s ball movement, and a Paul George jumper and buzzer beating three meant a double-digit advantage was reduced to 59-52, Milwaukee.

Coming out of the break, any offensive flow the team had appeared to fully disappear. Besides a Middleton leaner, the team missed shots in seemingly every fashion possible. Of course, that hot Indiana shooting persisted, and a couple of perimeter jumpers later, and the Bucks clung to a one point lead. Another Paul George three gave the Pacers the lead, 63-61.

Milwaukee answered quickly in kind with Middleton once again coming up big to lead an 18-4 run in favor of Milwaukee. The Pacers began to lose their men even in set defensive possessions, and the Bucks’ constant pick and rolls opened up clear passing lanes underneath the basket. Sloppy turnovers for Indiana gave new life to the Bucks, and their lead grew once again.

Jabari Parker did this to cap the big run:

Of particular note for Milwaukee? Their defensive scheme focused on swarming the ball as soon as it crossed half court, and Indiana seemed to be too tired to try to break the gridlock. That defense presented opportunities like this one:

The Bucks coasted to end the quarter with a 89-77 lead.

Discombobulated play continued for the Pacers resulting in an early turnover as Milwaukee continued to pound inside. Greg Monroe was a big beneficiary on the night hitting some seemingly impossible off-balance shots in the paint on his way to a 23 point, three rebound night.

As the pace started to tick up with the Pacers looking to come from behind, the sloppy execution spread to Milwaukee who weren’t nearly as crisp handling the ball or keeping the Pacers locked down. Jerryd Bayless, trick shot maker extraordinaire, led the Bucks through a drought with a jumper and two off of a recovered block with the shot clock running down.

A flurry of Pacer scores made things a little interesting, especially with a nine-point lead with 3:07 left in the quarter. Turnover after turnover let the Pacers right back in it, and a George three to get his 29th points on the night made things dangerous.

More threes fell for Indiana, and a total collapse was on the horizon. Khris did his best to stem the tide thanks to an and-1 opportunity, but a missed free throw kept the door open. A missed Monta Ellis three in transition began the free throw game. The Bucks made just enough to keep alive, and walk away from 2015 with a close 120-116 win.

89. Final. 116. 100. 120

We wish everyone the happiest of new years, and thank you all for your continued support. Happy New Year, and here’s to 2016!