Opposition Intel: Milwaukee Bucks vs. Indiana Pacers Preview With Ben Gibson
As the Milwaukee Bucks look to gather some positive momentum, we spoke to Ben Gibson of 8 Points, 9 Seconds ahead of their matchup with the Indiana Pacers.
Welcome to Opposition Intel!
After easily the most impressive performance of their young season so far coming on the road in New Orleans on Wednesday, the Milwaukee Bucks return home on Friday looking to build some positive momentum.
Against the Pelicans, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker were both on top form, while strong supporting performances from Tony Snell, Matthew Dellavedova, Malcolm Brogdon and Michael Beasley, provided encouragement for a more sustainable way for the team to compete consistently on both ends.
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The opponent for the Bucks as they look to get above .500 for the first time this season is the star-studded but so far stuttering Indiana Pacers. With a new head coach and a host of high profile additions to the roster, the Pacers have started the season slower than many expected and still seem to be figuring things out.
Ahead of the action, we spoke to Indiana Pacers writer and friend of the site Ben Gibson to find out exactly what to expect in the game, and to learn about what matchups we should be looking out for.
Let’s take a look at what he had to say.
Early Season Struggles
Adam McGee (@AdamMcGee11): Its been an up and down start to the season for the Pacers. With so many changes over the summer, was there always going to be a settling in period, or are these the early signs of something different that could become a larger trend?
Ben Gibson (@CowboyOnPatrol): The Pacers have too much talent to be a complete trainwreck like this in the long term, right? The defense will be average at best this season, but right now it is a mess. It may take some time, but the Pacers will play their way out of it.
Jeff Teague hasn’t played well after his debut against the Dallas Mavericks, and the bench suffered without both Aaron Brooks and Rodney Stuckey, so there is some explanation to why they’ve struggled. If Indiana is still a few games under .500 later this season, then it is time to panic.
Star In The Making?
Adam: Paul George has been the undoubted best player on this team for a number of years now, but with Myles Turner‘s fast start this season and overall potential, what would it mean for Indiana to see him emerge as a top class second option?
Ben: It means the Pacers have a much higher ceiling than we expected this season. Myles Turner represents the future of the Pacers and if he emerges as a second option for Indiana it means Paul George has a running mate.
Monta Ellis, Jeff Teague, and Thaddeus Young are complements to PG, but Turner could be the type of player one day that can allow George to really take a back seat at times and take pressure off him. He’s only 20 years old but he’s already showing us he should soon be good for a double-double of points and rebounds night in and night out.
If he does that, then the Pacers have two legitimate all-star level players on their roster.
Opinion of the Bucks
Adam: What’s your impression of Milwaukee’s current roster and how do you expect them to fare over the course of the season?
Ben: Young, raw, and soon to be trouble in the Central Division and the Eastern Conference. I think like most younger teams they’ll give up games they shouldn’t and frustrate fans, but they’ll slowly learn from the veterans how to close out games and avoid giving up close ones as often.
I imagine they’ll be like the current version of the Lakers in the sense we’ll see that they are very talented, but they’ll also look like the younger players they are at times at well.
Matchup To Watch
Adam: If you were to single out one matchup as having the potential to be decisive between the Bucks and Pacers, what would it be and why?
Ben: Depending on how they play it, Giannis Antetokounmpo vs. the Pacers backcourt. We know they’re going to struggle on defense, but Antetokounmpo is obviously a size-problem for Indiana’s guards.
I haven’t watched the Bucks this season, but I know they don’t hesitate to have Antetokounmpo play shooting guard. Obviously the Pacers can cross match, but I worry what an oversized guard like Antetokounmpo can do against a defender like Ellis if that’s how they match up.
Adam: What’s your final prediction for how Thursday’s game between the two teams will finish up?
Ben: Honestly, I don’t know what to expect. Indiana’s offense has struggled mightily outside of opening night, and as mentioned before, the defense isn’t doing much to stop opponents right now.
If the Pacers play like they have in their last three games, then the Bucks will grind out a victory, or maybe even cruise to a win. But if Indiana starts to get things together with Aaron Brooks and the second unit, the Pacers keep it close and Paul George takes over again to get the win.
Be sure to check back in with us on Friday for all of the reactions to Thursday’s game from the BMO Harris Bradley Center, where tip-off is at 7pm CT.
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