MILWAUKEE — The slumping Indiana Pacers will rest all five starters Wednesday night against Milwaukee, even as they chase the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Coach Frank Vogel told reporters at the Pacers’ shootaround that none of his top five had worked out and they would all sit out the game. He said it’s a chance for Paul George, David West, Roy Hibbert, George Hill and Lance Stephenson to get some minor injuries healed, and for his reserves to play extended minutes.
"We’re going out to try to win this basketball game," Vogel said. "We still have our sights on the No. 1 seed, but the most important thing for our team is fixing our team, and this is the plan to try to do that."
Indiana is stumbling to the finish after leading the East most of the season. The Pacers have lost five of their last six games, and Vogel said he thought they looked tired after a 107-88 home loss to Atlanta on Sunday, when Indiana was held to a franchise-low 23 points in the first half.
Still, the Pacers were just a half-game behind Miami, which played at Memphis on Wednesday. The Pacers visit the Heat on Friday.
Vogel said the starters would return to practice Thursday and play at Miami, though some bench guys could rest that night.
"The thought process behind all five guys is if you sit one or two guys per game, then nobody ever finds a rhythm," Vogel said.
Indiana has prioritized the top seed all season, so it would have home-court advantage against Miami if the teams meet again in the Eastern Conference finals. But with his team struggling offensively, Vogel decided on the rest plan against the NBA-worst Bucks, who have lost five in a row.
"We’re not playing well as a basketball team right now," he said. "Our starters aren’t playing well, our bench is not playing well. We want to try to get the starters on track by getting their legs back under them and getting them healed up and we want to get the bench back on track by giving them extended minutes in tonight’s game."