3 Biggest X-factors for Milwaukee Bucks in series against Indiana Pacers

Milwaukee Bucks v Indiana Pacers
Milwaukee Bucks v Indiana Pacers / Andy Lyons/GettyImages
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In just a few short hours, the Milwaukee Bucks will host the Indiana Pacers to open the first-round of the 2024 NBA Playoffs.

This will be an interesting series. Though they Bucks are the higher seed, they are by no means the overwhelming favorites. Even outside of their current injury concerns, the Bucks have struggled to beat the Pacers this season, going just 1-4 against them. The Milwaukee Bucks will have a nice test right out of the gates to see what they are made of.

That said, let us look at three X-factors that could make or break the Bucks in this series.

Giannis Antetokounmpo's health

Obviously, this is the biggest one. Giannis Antetokounmpo went down recently in a match against the Boston Celtics, suffering what was thankfully nothing more than a calf strain. His status for the start of the series is reportedly in legitimate doubt, and it's unclear when he may be able to get back on the court. Obviously, that spells trouble for the Milwaukee Bucks.

Without Giannis, the Bucks are a different squad entirely. They have several household names in tow, but there are concerns that they may implode without their superstar against a team that has already had their number this season. If he misses the first game or two, the Bucks could find themselves in a hole very early, and digging themselves out of it would be a tall, though not impossible, task.

Even if Antetokounmpo does return, what percent of himself will he be? With an injury like this one, the team should not rush him back by any means. Calf injuries can get nasty if they are not properly treated, and the Milwaukee Bucks do not need this to become a bigger issue. Now, it's all about the waiting game.

Antetokounmpo has shown in the past that he's a gracious healer. Even with a significant injury like the one he suffered in 2021, he was still surprisingly back in time for the NBA Finals, having missed just two games prior to that. No two injuries are the same, but it's clear that he will do everything in his power to get back on the floor as soon as possible.

Could the Milwaukee Bucks survive if Antetokounmpo misses a game or two? Yes, but anything more could get foggy, especially with how the team has been slumping lately.