Doc Rivers finally utilizes obvious strategy, but Bucks drop Game 4 to Pacers

Milwaukee Bucks v Indiana Pacers - Game Four
Milwaukee Bucks v Indiana Pacers - Game Four / Emilee Chinn/GettyImages

The Milwaukee Bucks entered Sunday's Game 4 against the Indiana Pacers trailing 1-2 in the series, facing a 1-3 hole.

With Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard both injured, things would be much more difficult for the shorthanded Milwaukee Bucks. They needed all hands on deck to have a chance in this matchup. Unfortunately, they simply did not, as it was yet another discombobulated effort from the barely held together Bucks.

Bobby Portis, who the Bucks certainly could have used a big game from, lost his cool and got himself ejected after a scuffle with Indy's Andrew Nembhard. Given everything at stake and how much he was needed without Milwaukee's other stars, all Bucks fans could do was collectively shake their heads as Portis left the game, adding insult to injury.

The Bucks kept things close and made a few runs, but they could not ultimately overcome a red- hot shooting night from the Pacers, who went up 3-1 with a 126-115 win.

Doc Rivers finally utilizes obvious strategy, but Bucks drop Game 4 to Pacers

With many key cogs out, Doc Rivers forcibly turned to his youth, a move that fans have begged for over the past several months. He gave each of them over 20 minutes; trying to get him to do so in the past has seemed like getting a tooth pulled. Unsurprisingly, the youngsters didn't disappoint.

Seeing Andre Jackson Jr. was like a breath of fresh air, as he provided defense, scoring, facilitating, shooting and hustle. In 25 minutes, he had seven assists, six points, six rebounds, three steals and two blocked shots. Like Milwaukee Bucks fans have been shouting at their televisions, Jackson can flat-out do it all when given a shot, as he did in this one.

Jackson was clearly one of the game's biggest bright spots, finishing as a +9. Outside of a couple of Bucks who only saw the floor in mop-up duty, he was the lone Milwaukee player with a positive rating.

AJ Green wasn't quite as dazzling, finishing with eight points, three rebounds and an assist, but he still left his mark with his shot-making. He's still looking for that perimeter stroke, but he did what he could to keep the Bucks afloat, scoring the most points of any Milwaukee reserve in 21 minutes.

It's stunning that these two can play as well as they did and still not see significant time. These two should have (for months) been eating at minutes from Pat Connaughton and Jae Crowder, who have struggled mightily to do much in this series. Rivers is leaning into using his youth, but he needs to take it a step further. If Jackson doesn't play 30-plus minutes next time out, it will be baffling.

Elsewhere, Khris Middleton did what he could to keep the Bucks alive, pouring in 25 points, 10 boards and five assists. He's had a few injury scares in this series, and he had another in this game when he came down from a reverse layup attempt, but he pushed through and kept playing. One simply cannot question the toughness he has displayed.

Brook Lopez had a nice game offensively with 27 points, attacking down low while also stretching the floor, but his defense was brutal, which has been a trend in this series. He simply does not have what it takes to keep up with Myles Turner, who had another sensational game. It felt as if Lopez was late on every single closeout, giving Turner room to fire away and likely knock down.

Malik Beasley, seemingly trying to back up some previous comments he made, has a solid game in his return to the lineup, chipping in 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting.

On the other side, the aforementioned Turner had 29 points, while Tyrese Haliburton added 24. Andrew Nembhard, who has been a thorn in Milwaukee's side all series long and played his part in getting Portis ejected, added 15 points and nine assists.

The Bucks are down 3-1, but not all hope is lost just yet. It's unclear if Antetokounmpo or Lillard will be able to go the next time this team is on the floor, but it would certainly be a welcoming boost at a time of need.

No matter who is in and out, Doc Rivers needs to give Jackson and Green minutes. It's simply too obvious at this point that they can help the team over a handful of the veterans in this matchup.

The young guys will not win Milwaukee games by themselves, but they do give them their best shot to win games at this point.

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