Last night, the Milwaukee Bucks took on the Indiana Pacers in the East Semifinal of the In-Season Tournament and fell to a 128-119 defeat in Las Vegas. A fourth quarter collapse was the reason for the Bucks' defeat, as they stagnated offensively in the final few minutes whilst defensively allowing the Pacers to take control.
With just two and a half minutes left to play, the Bucks were down 113-112 following a couple of Damian Lillard free throws. The late collapse meant the Pacers won the quarter 37-25, and ultimately, it is them who move on to the first In-Season Tournament final that will take place this weekend.
Guard Tyrese Haliburton finished with 27 points, 15 assists and seven rebounds without registering a turnover. Myler Turner finished with 26 points and 10 rebounds, along with three other Pacers players ending the game with double-digit points.
Credit goes to the Pacers, but from the Bucks' point of view, they caused their own issues on both ends of the court, and it is back to the drawing board for Adrian Griffin and the team before they take on the Chicago Bulls on Monday.
With the round-up out of the way, let's take a look at three studs and three duds from the Bucks' late collapse to the Indiana Pacers.
Stud - Giannis Antetokounmpo
Giannis did all he could on both ends of the floor to power the Bucks back in the game and at least give them the chance to extend their time in Vegas for a few more days. He finished the game with 37 points, 10 rebounds, two assists and two blocks. Even from the free throw line, he had a good game, hitting 11 of his 13 attempts from the line.
One of the highlights of the game was Giannis driving from the top of the key past Turner to throw down the hammer over him. Turner is no defensive scrub either, but Giannis was being a bully in the paint and really dragged Milwaukee back into the game when others were struggling.
One of the big issues with the Bucks down the stretch was Giannis and Lillard combining for just three shots in the final five minutes. Both players have shown their clutch ability throughout their NBA careers, and Lillard was traded to help in those late-game situations. It feels like with the game on the line, Milwaukee needs to use those two more and make defenses commit to attempting to stop the duo.
On the season, he is averaging 30.5 points and currently hitting a career-high 61.4 field goal percentage. Like most games, he is doing what he does on both ends of the floor, it is elsewhere the team is struggling, and it is perhaps slightly hampering the overall view on Giannis as the wins are expected. A lot of the losses this season have come down to self-infliction.
Dud - Bobby Portis
Bobby Portis has come under a lot of criticism recently with some of his performances not being to the standard of what is expected of him during his time in Milwaukee. Having been a serious Sixth Man of the Year candidate in the past three seasons, they need him to find his flow again and lead the bench unit again.
In almost 18 minutes11-point, he only scored four points and six rebounds, well under his 11 point average for this season and way down from his 14.1 average last season. The first half saw him, Lillard and Malik Beasley combined to hit just four of their 17 shots, three of the more reliable players, leaving the Bucks down big at the half and having to fight back in the third.
Portis had a nine-game run of hitting double-digit points, and it looked like he was back in his stride. In the previous eight games, he has only scored double digits in three of those games, and with the other bench players struggling to put the ball in the basket, this has hurt.
Portis needs to step it up to help the Bucks. His energy and tenacity on both ends of the floor have been integral to the team's success, and without that, it is leaving the starters to try and drag the team through games. I am confident he will find his groove, but I know a lot of Bucks fans are entertaining the idea of him being moved on to freshen up the roster.