There was certainly no shortage of controversy in the recent outing between the Milwaukee Bucks and Indiana Pacers.
Even before the game ended and tension filled the arena as Bucks players tried to secure the game ball for Giannis Antetokounmpo after his 64-point performance, the game itself was chippy. After an incredibly hard foul by Aaron Nesmith sent Giannis Antetokounmpo to the ground, Bobby Portis got into Nesmith's face, and a little skirmish followed. Portis was ejected later for getting a second tech.
Things got even more testy once "Game Ball Gate" started, as Bucks players and coaches met with those on Indiana's side in the tunnel to get this issue sorted out, and tensions flared. A rivalry may very well have just blossomed between these two teams, and the Pacers seemingly made a move to gear up for another physical battle ahead of the next matchup.
Pacers make intriguing move following controversy-filled game with Milwaukee Bucks
One day after the game concluded, the Pacers signed veteran forward James Johnson, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Johnson played for the Pacers last year, providing leadership for what was and is still a young group. However, his greatest attribute may be his toughness, as Johnson, who has a black belt in martial arts, has always carried a reptuation as an enforcer throughout his NBA career.
Now, the Pacers didn't simply sign Johnson to put that black belt to the test next time the Bucks and Pacers play. However, it's also not sheer coincidence, as he can add an element of toughness to this team for one situations like this one arise while also providing veteran leadership in the locker room daily. It's a nice signing for the up-and-coming Indiana Pacers.
Everyone has the next time the Bucks and Pacers play circled on their schedule. In fact, they will face off in back to back games on January 1 and 3 to kick off 2024. Those will be must-see games, even without all of the controversy, as these are two of the toughest teams in the Eastern Conference and a potential new rivalry in the making.
All of Milwaukee's games against Indiana this season have been filled to the brim with excitement, and that trend will like continue moving forward.
Stay tuned for more Milwaukee Bucks analysis.