3 Takeaways from Milwaukee Bucks' gut-wrenching Game 3 loss to Indiana Pacers

Milwaukee Bucks v Indiana Pacers - Game Three
Milwaukee Bucks v Indiana Pacers - Game Three / Dylan Buell/GettyImages
1 of 3

Coming off a disappointing loss in Game 2, the Milwaukee Bucks aimed to bounce back on the road against the Indiana Pacers.

Early on, it looked like they were well on their way to another defeat, coming out with the same lack of energy that doomed them in Game 2. Pretty soon, the Bucks were down 19, and it looked like this one might get ugly. However, then the Bucks, ever so slowly, started chipping away. Early in the final frame, the Bucks took the lead and went back and forth with Indiana down the stretch and into overtime.

The Milwaukee Bucks had their chances, but they just could not outlast the Pacers, who sealed the deal with a Tyrese Haliburton and-one in the final seconds of overtime. With the 121-118 win, they have now won two games and lead this series 2-1. When the final buzzer sounded, it felt like a pure punch to the stomach, given how this one slipped out of Milwaukee's grasp.

That said, let us pick out three takeaways from the contest.

Khris Middleton still has the juice, and the Bucks need it

After injuring his ankle in Game 2, Khris Middleton's status for Game 3 was uncertain until moments before tip-off. Ultimately, not only did the forward give it a go, but he delivered one of the best playoff performances of his NBA career with the Milwaukee Bucks.

He was in a groove on offense all night, knocking down tough shot after tough shot. Down the stretch of the fourth quarter and overtime, Middleton hit a pair of 3-pointers that were flat-out jaw-dropping to keep the Milwaukee Bucks alive. With Damian Lillard playing through injury, Middleton was forced to take on more of the workload, and he delivered, scoring 18 in the fourth and overtime.

In total, Middleton finished with 42 points on 55.2 percent shooting, 10 rebounds and five assists. The cherry on top would have been a win, but many factors, one of which will be talked about next, just prevented it from happening. It's a shame the Milwaukee Bucks could not get it done, but this game showed that Middleton can still produce on the big stage.

With Lillard banged up and Giannis Antetokounmpo's status still uncertain, the Milwaukee Bucks will need Middleton to keep playing at a high level to keep them afloat in this series.