1 Significant statistic will be the key metric to monitor between Bucks and Pacers

Indiana Pacers v Milwaukee Bucks - Game Two
Indiana Pacers v Milwaukee Bucks - Game Two / Stacy Revere/GettyImages

There are a few key statistics that defined the Milwaukee Bucks' Game 1 victory over the Indiana Pacers (109-94) and the subsequent Game 2 loss (125-108).

Of course, the final score is the best stat for Milwaukee fans, but other stats get us there.

In this space, we’ve discussed the importance of turnovers and creating turnovers quite a bit. The Bucks won the turnover battle in Game 1, only turning over the basketball 10 times, while Indiana had 12 team turnovers. 

That is always a positive sign for Milwaukee. 

But in Game 2, Milwaukee lost the turnover battle 7-5 (They only created five stinking turnovers!). The team needs to be aggressive on defense and play within themselves at the same time.

Along with turning the ball over, one other common, often overlooked statistical measure will be even more important in this series than team turnovers. That stat is “effective field goal percentage.” It is interesting because it gives extra weight and clout to making 3-point buckets and does a good job of describing how the game feels.

(2pt FGM + 1.5*3pt FGM) / FGA

Let’s look a little closer at what that all is, how it impacted Milwaukee during the regular season versus Indiana and how it impacted the Bucks last year in their first-round playoff exit vs. Miami.

The Milwaukee Bucks' key metric: Effective field goal percentage

This single statistic will determine who wins this playoff series. 

In Game 1, the Bucks shot a decent 47.1 percent from the field. Indiana shot an abysmal 39.6 percent. 

But in terms of “effective field goal percentage,” (2pt FGM + 1.5*3pt FGM) / FGA) the Bucks had a 55.2 percent while Indiana only had a 44.0 percent score.  That was a big advantage, and for fans, it often felt like Milwaukee was winning.

This means a made 3-pointer is worth one and a half times as much as a made 2-pointer. A player who shoots 4-for-10 on all 2-point baskets has a standard field goal percentage of 40 percent and an effective field goal percentage of 40. But, if all those makes were 3-pointers, that player’s effective field goal percentage is 60, reflecting the extra value of a made three.

In Game 2, the effective field goal percentage told a very different story. Indiana had an effective field goal percentage of 64 percent, while Milwaukee only managed 51.7 percent. Again, it felt like Milwaukee was in the game; they just were not as aggressively effective as Indiana.

Anyone who watched Game 2 could feel the game slipping away because of Indiana’s strong third quarter effective field goal percentage.

The effective field goal percentage history

In the semifinal loss in the NBA In-Season Tournament, Indiana shot 49 percent from the field, while Milwaukee only shot 44.8 percent.

For the Bucks, the big hammer here is Giannis. He tends to always have a strong field goal percentage because he takes so many shots close to the basket. Also, with Damian Lillard shooting like everyone seems to think he can, it adds a whole new wrinkle to this measure.

The field goal percentage “X-factor” for Milwaukee is Khris Middleton. Against Miami last year in the playoffs, he was Milwaukee’s leading scorer, averaging 23.8 points a game (.8 more than Giannis). He shot a respectable 46.5 percent from the field.

Against Indiana in Game 1, Middleton was 9-of-14, ( 64 percent). He was very effective for the Bucks. He has always played with a certain "effectiveness" anyway. His measured approach helps keep this team moving forward.

In going back and remembering last season, the Bucks lost in round one, falling to the Miami Heat. Milwaukee Bucks fans everywhere hope that is not what is going to happen here against Indiana.

Last season, Milwaukee shot 47.1 percent from the field in the first round against Miami. That is pretty good and is usually good enough to win a playoff series. 

However, the Miami Heat were “lights out” at times, shooting 51.9 percent from the field. From three, Miami was 60-of-137. That is incredible! 

When we look closer at effective field goal percentage, in that Game 1 loss last year, Milwaukee had an effective field goal percentage of .555, while Miami was at .685.

For the Bucks, simply not playing a hot shooting team like Miami is a strong start. Yes, Indiana can put up points, but can they play like the Heat? So far, over a small sample size, the answer is no.

The Bucks need to create turnovers and score effectively

For the Milwaukee Bucks, it might just come down to scoring, scoring and more scoring. The Bucks have an improved defense. Now, it is time to ratchet back up their scoring. That seemed to be a huge thing for Game 1 and Game 2. When Indiana seemed to “solve” Damian Lillard’s offensive output, the Bucks did not have an answer. Having Giannis Antetokounmpo would help.

Three other players, Jae Crowder, Malik Beasley and the aforementioned Khris Middleton need to provide, and provide more consistent scoring for the team to have a legitimate shot at an NBA championship. 

That scoring needs to be effective.

For Bucks fans, they don't have to look far for that one key-metric that will tell the story of a win or a loss: effective field goal percentage.

Who will provide the scoring punch for the Milwaukee Bucks? Time will tell.