The Milwaukee Bucks haven’t been very good this season, but neither have the Indiana Pacers. Which team will triumph in the battle of bad starts?
Mar 2, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (13) looks to pass the ball as Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) defends during the second quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
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The Milwaukee Bucks are not that good of a basketball team. The Bucks have beaten the New Orleans Pelicans and the Brooklyn Nets, who are a combined 2-8 thus far this season. At least they didn’t lose to the Nets, though!
The Indiana Pacers had the unfortunate reality of being Brooklyn’s first win when they traveled to play the Nets and got a rude awakening if they expected anything besides a hard-fought game against a well-coached team.
Indiana hasn’t beaten anybody worth mentioning either. Their two wins are over the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers, teams currently sporting a 2-7 record. This game might be entertaining simply because the two teams are similar levels of bad in the early going.
The good news is that might mean a win is coming for Milwaukee! They haven’t come easily in the early going with the Bucks, so they’ll have to capitalize on a struggling Pacers team’s problems.
We’ll go through the major keys to victory for both teams, look at a player to watch in this one, and then finally make our predictions!
Nov 1, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Matthew Dellavedova (8) saves a ball from going out of bounds as New Orleans Pelicans guard Tim Frazier (2) defends during the fourth quarter of a game at the Smoothie King Center. The Bucks defeated the Pelicans 117-113. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Major Key For Milwaukee: Keep Shooting
The Bucks have been bad at shooting the basketball from three-point territory this season. Milwaukee is 24th in three-point percentage despite making adding shooters a clear focus of the previous offseason.
Still, it’s very important for the Bucks to keep shooting. In Khris Middleton‘s absence, the team needs some of their new shooters to warm up, and the best way to do that is by getting them more and more shots.
If the new Bucks could either raise their makes or lower their attempts on those numbers, Milwaukee could have a real aerial attack. That makes it possible for Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo to operate in space, which is always a benefit for players who don’t have steady jumpers, although even Giannis and Jabari have been shooting a bit this season.
Oct 14, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Jeff Teague (44) drives to the basket against the Orlando Magic during the first quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Major Key For Indiana: Get Teague Going
A lot of NBA analysts liked the George Hill trade for the Pacers. Obviously the Utah Jazz won the biggest from the deal, considering they finally got the good point guard the Jazz have lusted for for the past few years.
But the Pacers got Jeff Teague, a point guard considered to be around as good as Hill, and one who is two years younger. Teague’s age lines up closer to Paul George‘s than Hill, making him theoretically a better fit.
As good as the move may have looked on paper, it’s been awful to watch on the floor. Teague is shooting 22 percent from the field and 6.7 percent from three-point range. It’s not been good.
Teague has been averaging 7.3 assists per game, but they need better and more efficient scoring from him to be good in Indiana. If he heats up, this could be a whole different beast the Bucks are lining up against.
Enough of getting cute with these picks. Paul George is the best Pacer by a mile, and this team will get as high as he can carry it. George has good teammates in Turner and Hill, but at the end of the day he is the Pacers right now.
PG-13 has averaged 24.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.8 steals per game this season, as he’s clearly comfortable with being back out on the perimeter for most of his minutes. He’s converting 48.4 percent of his field goals and 52.2 percent of his three-point attempts.
Giannis should be able to do a pretty decent job of defending George, but if PG-13 finds minutes against the Bucks while the Greek Freak is resting up it could get ugly, quick. Milwaukee doesn’t have anybody else long and fast enough to stand a chance at guarding him serviceably.
George can score from anywhere, but his three-ball should play a huge role in how this game goes. If he sinks a ton of threes against a Bucks defense that has struggled to prevent them, Milwaukee could find itself in an early hole that’s tough to dig out of.
Oct 19, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Thaddeus Young (21) knocks the ball away from Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) in the third quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
The Indiana Pacers have not been good, but they have good players. That makes a team dangerous–if George and one or both of Turner and Teague get hot, Indiana can hang with almost anybody on a given night.
The problem for the Pacers thus far has been Teague being ice cold, but that should change at some point. Additionally, the team lacks spacing in a bad way, which should keep the Bucks at least involved in this game.
Still, only one of our writers has Milwaukee triumphing in this one. The Bucks are at home and facing a team that has struggled, but they’ve failed to inspire much optimism in either fans or writers thus far in 2016-17.