Pacers vs. Bucks Predictions: Will “Freak Time” Beat Haliburton and Co.?

Written by: Grant Mitchell
Published December 7, 2023
5 min read

The Indiana Pacers and Milwaukee Bucks will take the court Thursday evening with a chance to represent the Eastern Conference in the first NBA In-Season Tournament finale on Saturday.

The Pacers missed the playoffs last year but have become one of the most feared offensive teams in the league, leading the league in points per game and setting the pace for the best offensive rating in league history. The Bucks, meanwhile, just produced their best offensive performance of the year in a 146-122 win against the New York Knicks.

Here, we will go over the betting odds and share our favorite picks for the Pacers vs. Bucks matchup in the NBA In-Season Tournament Semifinal.

Indiana Pacers vs. Milwaukee Bucks Prediction

Pacers vs. Bucks Betting Odds for Thursday, Dec. 7

The Bucks are 5.5-point favorites on a neutral floor in Las Vegas, Nevada. The 255.5 total is the highest in the NBA in at least 30 years, ahead of the 252.5 line in a game involving the Pacers and Atlanta Hawks a few weeks ago.

Teams Spread Moneyline Total
Indiana Pacers +5.5 (-110) +170 Over 255.5 (-110)
Milwaukee Bucks -5.5 (-110) -210 Under 255.5 (-110)

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The Pacers play at the fastest pace in the league and rank first in fastbreak points, first in points in the paint, and third in three-point shooting percentage. The combination of all of those has led to the creation of one of the best offenses the league has ever seen, at least this far into the season.

One of the main talking points about Indy’s early-season offensive explosion was how it would hold up in the playoffs when games slow down, refs swallow their whistles, and possessions become more valuable. 

After scoring only 48 points in the first half of their quarterfinal win against the Boston Celtics, who are second in the defensive rating, the Pacers proved they were legit by putting up 74 in the second half to come from behind and win 122-112. 

Tyrese Haliburton is the man to make sense of the madness of the Indiana offense. His 26.9 points per game are the best on the team, and his 11.9 assists per night lead the entire league. He’s also shooting 44.7% from three on 8.9 attempts per game and is just a couple of made free throws away from becoming an early member of the 50/40/90 club.

The Pacers’ offensive output has mostly come at the expense of defense and rebounding, which is why they’re only 11-8 on the year. However, the Celtics’ 112 points were 4.5 fewer than their season average, and Indy showed a greater commitment to making multiple efforts per defensive possession.

One question that is still to be answered is if this young Indiana squad can win marquee matchups away from home. Their home environment helped tremendously against Boston, and they’re only 4-3 outside of their building this season.

On the other side, the Bucks look like they’re figuring it out. They did not play convincingly well to start the year but still found ways to win games, but now, they’re starting to win with outright superiority.

Milwaukee’s win against the Knicks a couple of days ago was its greatest demonstration of force thus far. They scored at least 34 points in all four quarters against a team that was among the leaders in defensive rating and points per game allowed.

The Giannis Antetokounmpo-Damian Lillard partnership is really starting to pop. The pair was responsible for 63 points, 17 assists, and 11 rebounds their last time out, and looks like it’s developing much more chemistry in the pick-and-roll.

What’s even more troubling for opposing defenses is that Milwaukee has the best spacing it’s had during the Giannis era. They rank sixth in three-point percentage (38.4%) and have three members of the regular rotation (Malik Beasley, Cameron Payne, MarJon Beauchamp) shooting better than 44% from downtown. 

The defense was never going to be the same following the loss of Jrue Holiday, but they’ve started to find a groove there as well and are up to 13th in defensive rating over the last 10 games.

Like Indy, the Bucks have found a groove at home. But despite being 10-1 in their arena, they’re 5-5 on the road. They too will need to dig deep to win on a neutral court in Vegas.

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Pacers vs. Bucks Prediction and Betting Pick

The Pacers’ commitment to the defensive end is going to have to continue for them to have a chance here. The Bucks are going to live in the paint off Giannis and Dame drives, which will inevitably lead to kick-outs for threes. The Pacers’ rotations, helps, and scrambles need to be on point.

These teams rank fifth and ninth in three-point attempts per night. Even though the pace might slow down slightly, there’s still going to be a three-point barrage from both sides, and both teams have proven they can make their shots at a high clip.

Haliburton is the player to watch here. His slow start in the Boston game was reflected by his team’s seven-point halftime deficit, but his second-half excellence was also felt in the final score. He hasn’t played in a very meaningful game in his NBA career and has a chance to prove himself on a big stage.

We think the Bucks will win, but we believe that Indy can keep it close enough to cover (and potentially even upset). Their ability to make threes could prove pivotal down the stretch.

  •  Pacers vs. Bucks pick: Pacers +5.5 (-110)

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Grant Mitchell

Sports Betting Analyst & On-Air Host

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Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself on delivering breaking news and insightful analyses of the industry. Grant graduated from Virginia Tech in 2021 and is feverishly pursuing his ambitions in the sports betting field. In his free time, Grant can be found passionately watching sports, doing a workout, or searching for adventure with his friends.
Nationality: American
Education: Bachelor in Sports Media and Analytics
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