The Milwaukee Bucks must make these 2 adjustments for Game 2 vs. Pacers

“Adjustments” will be the watchword for both the Pacers and Bucks
Indiana Pacers v Milwaukee Bucks - Game One
Indiana Pacers v Milwaukee Bucks - Game One / Stacy Revere/GettyImages

In Game 1 of their playoff series, the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Indiana Pacers (109-94). It was a strong statement from a veteran team that played with confidence. Indiana looked lost at times and played a poor first half. They never were able to recover.

For both teams, this series is far from over. If Indiana can sneak a win on the road, it could really swing the momentum. However, the Bucks should still feel confident following a nice opening win.

For the Bucks, the adjustments are minimal, but they still need to tighten up their play. For Milwaukee, the first “big adjustment” they need to make relates to applying defensive pressure, while the second adjustment is more about mental team awareness. 

The Indiana Pacers' major adjustment is a little more obvious: play with more tempo and shoot better.

The Bucks must keep applying defensive pressure and bring full-court pressure

The argument against applying more pressure in the full court is you don’t want to tire out Damian Lillard. But whatever they did, or figured out internally, to slow down Tyrese Haliburton worked. Lillard played energized, inspired basketball while Halliburton played slow and labored.

For the Milwaukee Bucks, to take away “space” from their opponent over the whole length of the court really seems to work.

In the NBA regular season, Milwaukee was 19th in the NBA in defensive rating (They were fourth in the NBA regular season in defensive rebounding percentage). The great news for the Bucks is Indiana was worse - they were 24th in the regular season in defensive rating. 

In this Game 1 win, it showed. The Bucks’s first-half defense looked exceptional at times. Indiana could not convert shot attempts and Milwaukee had tons of consecutive stops.

Milwaukee was able to create 12 turnovers while only having nine themselves. It was awesome to see this team win the turnover battle.

The main, big difference also appears to be the play of Patrick Beverley. In the regular season, he was not on the roster when Milwaukee played Indiana.

The Bucks must watch out for the letdown 

Even Damian Lillard acknowledged the lack of defense in the third quarter.

"“We flew around a lot on defense in the first and second quarter and then got that back in the fourth quarter…. We set screens, we moved the ball, we played for each other.”"

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In the third quarter, Milwaukee only scored 14 points and was outscored by 15. That small, little letdown came after an ideal second quarter where Milwaukee scored 39 points, holding the Pacers to 21. 

The way to avoid a letdown is simple: get some increased production from some other guys. 

Damian Lillard was awesome and was simply the game MVP. Dame Time was the best time, especially in the first half. With Patrick Beverly now guarding  Pacers star Tyrese Haliburton, it really seems to allow Lillard to score at will. He’ll need to score like that, even if Giannis Antetokounmpo returns for Game 2.

The fourth regular season match-up resulted in a  122-113 loss where Haliburton scored 26 and dished out 11 assists. Lillard responded with 13 points on 3-of-16 shooting. Hey, we all have off days, but Lillard simply outplayed Haliburton in Game 1.

Milwaukee needs more offense from Jae Crowder and Brook Lopez.

Adjustment for Indiana: Play with more tempo and shoot better

The Pacers are supposed to be able to score. Tyrese Haliburton looked shell-shocked and played poorly. It certainly looked like his first playoff appearance.

Indiana was a lowly 36-of-91 from the field. They only managed to shoot 20 percent from three.

Halliburton, who was born in Oshkosh and attended Oshkosh North High School, was drafted 12th by the Kings in the 2020 draft. He also led the team and the whole NBA in assists (12.7 per game). He looked so off.

For Indiana, everything has to be about him. If they can get him playing decent again (in Game 1, he only had nine points and eight assists) the Pacers could have a chance. But if Milwaukee can continue to pressure him and keep him frazzled, there is no way this series goes even six games.

The unspoked adjustment every Bucks fan is hoping for, of course, is the return of Giannis. Could he simply "will" the team two a few more wins? The Pacers would need even more than epic contributions from Halliburton is they can get more "first-half Dame" and decent play from Giannis.