3 Crucial matchups in playoff series between Milwaukee Bucks and Indiana Pacers

Indiana Pacers v Milwaukee Bucks
Indiana Pacers v Milwaukee Bucks / Patrick McDermott/GettyImages
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Brook Lopez vs. the pick and roll

It's no secret the pick and roll defense has been one of the biggest problems the Bucks had this season. Among the players who scored the most against this team, you'll find names like Luka Doncic, Jalen Brunson, De'Aaron Fox, D'Angelo Russell, Donovan Mitchell and Cade Cunningham. Do you know what else they have in common? Yes, you do. They love to attack in the pick and roll.

We don't even need the stats to check that, though. It feels so obvious, even for the eye test. Because of Brook Lopez's drop coverage, this play was a problem even when Jrue Holiday was the point-of-attack defender and Lopez was playing at his best. It's even a bigger problem now that the backcourt defense isn't as good and Lopez doesn't seem as omnipresent. If there's a series where you don't want to struggle with it, it's the one against the Pacers.

Haliburton and Myles Turner can be a very dangerous duo in this situation, as they've shown through the season. Of all the players going at the pick and roll as a ball handler at least five times a game, only six create more points per possession than Haliburton (one of them being his teammate T.J. McConnell). On the other hand, from all the players going at the pick and roll as the roll man at least three times a game, none of them produce more points per possession than Turner. It seems fair to consider them one of the biggest threats in this particular situation.

The In-Season Tournament game is probably the best evidence to spot this. Haliburton, Indy's leading scorer with 27 points, hit 11 shots that night, seven of which took place when guarded by Brook Lopez, rather after a switch or on help defense. And of the others, two of them were 3-pointers after losing his defender on the pick and roll screen. So it doesn't feel like a big stretch to say that Indiana won that game because of this very play.

We can even go further, though. Turner, the second Pacers' scorer with 26 points, scored all of his baskets but one after setting a screen, rather as a roller or as a shooter in the pick and pop action.

He's not the most versatile player on offense, but he matches very dangerously against Lopez in this kind of play because he has a 3-point shot you have to respect, but he's also a strong finisher at the rim. He forces a kind of 'pick your poison' situation, where you almost have to live with his shots or with the ball handler finishing with a non-fully contested floater.

Lopez will probably be put into this play pretty frequently and will need to play his best to slow down the Pacers' offense, and he won't be able to do it alone. Defensive rotations must be fast and precise, but it'll all start with Lopez using his intimidation skills. If he can't do it, we could even see some stretches with Giannis Antetokounmpo at the center position when he's back, trying to use his athleticism to stop a rather unstoppable play.