Bucks aim to maintain edge over Pacers in third matchup of season

Sports

Following a four-game road trip, the Milwaukee Bucks will return home to host the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night.

The Bucks split the series away from home, earning wins against the Houston Rockets and New York Knicks while falling to the Miami Heat and, in their most recent game Monday night, the Boston Celtics.

Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday each tallied 20 points in the 117-103 loss. Antetokounmpo added eight rebounds, while Holiday notched just as many assists. Pat Connaughton had 15 points and nine rebounds off the bench, and Bobby Portis finished with 13 points and eight rebounds on 6-of-14 shooting.

“We weren’t at our best,” Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said. “Whatever the reasons are, we just got to be better, but a lot of credit to Boston tonight.”

Donte DiVincenzo is finally expected to make his season debut against the Pacers after nursing an ankle injury, but Milwaukee could be without Khris Middleton, who hyperextended his left knee against the Celtics.

Wesley Matthews is also sidelined due to COVID-19 protocols. Semi Ojeleye remains out without a timeline to return because of a calf injury and Brook Lopez is inactive after undergoing back surgery.

Milwaukee has won three of five games at home this season following a road game. On top of that, the Bucks have won their last eight home games and opposing teams have eclipsed 108 points only twice during that stretch.

The Pacers closed their six-game homestand with a 102-100 loss against the Warriors on Monday night. Domantas Sabonis paced Indiana with 30 points and 11 rebounds on 12-of-17 shooting. Malcolm Brogdon contributed 23 points, eight assists and six rebounds, and Caris LeVert notched 19 points and five assists.

Despite the loss, the Pacers have won three of their last four games following a four-game losing skid that started at the end of November.

“I feel like playing with more intensity on defense is getting us out running,” Sabonis said. “We’re all sharing the ball more, and it’s contagious. I said it a couple of games ago, that’s contagious, everybody gets going. It’s good for us. We have a lot of weapons, and we’re going to use them all.”

Sabonis is playing particularly well and was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week for games played from Dec. 6-12. The 6-foot-11 forward averaged 25.0 points and 10.3 rebounds while shooting 75.0 percent from the field last week and has recorded seven straight double-doubles.

Indiana is not dealing with as many injuries as Milwaukee, but the Pacers will be without Justin Holiday after he entered COVID-19 protocols. T.J. Warren remains out with a foot injury but took part in shooting drills during Sunday’s practice as he continues to make strides in the right direction.

Wednesday’s matchup marks the third meeting between Indiana and the Bucks this season, and Milwaukee has taken the first two contests with an average winning margin of 14 points.

–Field Level Media

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