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The Indiana Pacers (13-8) recently beat the Milwaukee Bucks (16-7) in the In-Season Tournament semifinal, and they’ll have to head back to Milwaukee for a midweek matchup between two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.
The Pacers have won four straight games against East opponents and four of their last five overall, only falling to the Los Angeles Lakers in the In-Season Tournament championship. The Bucks are coming off a dramatic overtime win against the Chicago Bulls and have won 11 of their last 14 games despite only being 9-13-1 against the spread thus far.
Here, we will go over the betting odds and share our favorite picks for the Pacers vs. Bucks matchup.
The Bucks are favored by 6.5 points on Wednesday. They’re 11-2 on their home floor, but one of those losses occurred six days ago against this same Pacers team (in a game they were only favored by 5.5 points).
|Over 258.5 (-110)
|Under 258.5 (-110)
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The word is out on the Pacers. They have the best offense in the league and are on pace to set all-time records in a slew of metrics, including points per game and offensive rating.
Part of what makes Indy so successful is its ability to push the tempo with next to no ill effects. Despite leading the league in pace, they rank first in assist-to-turnover ratio and have the second-lowest turnover percentage of all teams.
The Pacers can attack from inside or out. They’re eighth in three-point shooting percentage (37.6%) but are also first in transition points and points in the paint.
Tyrese Haliburton is a smooth operator at the point guard position and allows his teammates to run all sorts of offensive actions. After 19 games, Haliburton is averaging 26.3 points, 12.3 assists, 4.2 rebounds, and shooting 44.3% from beyond the arc.
The Pacers are also the only team in the league with eight players scoring double figures per game.
Naturally, this team’s commitment to offensive excellence has left them exposed on the glass and on defense. They’re 25th in rebound rate and 28th in defensive rating, though there are reasons for optimism.
The Pacers’ quarterfinal, semifinal, and championship games during the In-Season Tournament were their three best defensive games. They allowed a combined average of 118 points, 6.7 fewer than their season average, against the Bucks, Lakers, and Boston Celtics—three championship contenders.
Haliburton and Myles Turner combined for 53 points, 17 assists, and 17 rebounds when these two teams met last week. Arguably the most impressive part of the win was that they only shot 7-33 (21.2%) from three, yet they won the fourth quarter 37-25 to come from behind and stun Milwaukee.
The Bucks are 16-7 but are still working out a few kinks. The glass-half-full perspective is that they’re finding ways to win in suboptimal times, but the glass-half-empty view is that they have issues that still need to be addressed before they enter the playoffs.
The Giannis Antetokounmpo-Damian Lillard looks a lot better than it did at the start of the year, and the defense is steadily improving. Key role players such as Bobby Portis and Pat Connaughton also aren’t playing at the level needed for them to rip off a deep run come the postseason.
Despite averaging Lillard 25 points and seven assists per game, Lillard has also been highly inconsistent. He’s averaged 27.2 points in 16 wins but only 18 on 38.3% field goal shooting in five losses.
Giannis, meanwhile, is having an MVP-caliber season and averaging 30.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and 2.7 stocks (steals + blocks). He’s also on pace to become the only player in league history to average at least 30 points per game on better than 60% shooting (61.7%).
Although the Bucks have been frustrating at times, their stars have been up for the challenge in key moments. They’re 10-4 in clutch situations (games within five points in the final five minutes) and have the fifth-best offensive and third-best defensive ratings in those scenarios.
Milwaukee isn’t usually a great rebounding team but it can do itself a huge favor by crashing the offensive glass and keeping the Pacers out of transition with second-chance opportunities. They also take care of the ball and are fifth in three-point shooting (38.4%) in case the game devolves into a shootout.
The 258.5 over/under is the highest projected total in NBA history. The teams combined to score 247 points during the semifinal, but again, the Pacers have not carried that defensive intensity into their traditional regular-season games.
Lillard needs to show up for the Bucks to be able to keep pace with the Pacers. He scored 24 but needed 20 shots to do so during the semifinal and was only 3-17 against the Bulls on Monday.
Indy will shoot better from three than it did the last time the two met, but it is also extremely vulnerable on the interior (especially with Jalen Smith’s injury). Giannis is averaging 45.5 points in two matchups against the Pacers this season and should feast again, but we still like the Pacers to cover.
Pacers vs. Bucks pick: Pacers +6.5 (-110) at BetMGM
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.More info on Grant Mitchell
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