Bucks vs. Pacers preview
The Milwaukee Bucks ended a lengthy losing streak to the Indiana Pacers earlier this season, but both teams look very different right now.
The Pacers are expecting to see George Hill round into form in 2015 beginning with Friday night’s road matchup against the short-handed Bucks.
Milwaukee (17-16) ended a six-game slide in this series with an 87-81 road victory Nov. 4. Brandon Knight had 23 points and seven rebounds and rookie Jabari Parker chipped in 10 points.
Parker is now out for the season with a torn ACL while Indiana (12-21) had three injured players in that contest who have since returned in Hill, David West and C.J. Watson.
The Pacers have won three of five since Hill made his season debut Dec. 23 after being out with a bruised left knee. He has started the last three games.
"We’re 3-2 with him in the lineup, we’ve won four out of six to finish up the month or the year and a big part of that is what George Hill gives us on both ends of the court," coach Frank Vogel said. "His length defensively and speed defensively, it just changes us dramatically."
Hill scored a season-high 20 points in Wednesday’s 106-95 win over Miami. He is averaging 14.3 points in his starts, and the Pacers believe he will be their leading scorer for the remainder of the season.
"I’m really excited about what he can do in 2015 on the offensive end," Vogel said. "We’re going to put the ball in his hands a ton, ask him to be really, really assertive and I think we’re all going to like what we see."
The Pacers are feeling better about themselves now that they are healthier as they start a four-game trip.
"We just continue to fight and play hard," said guard C.J. Miles, who scored 25. "We have 10 guys now that can play and everybody out there on that floor can make a play and can help our team."
Indiana is yielding a league-low 96.3 points per game.
The Bucks are seeking a third three-game win streak after taking advantage of LeBron James’ absence to beat Cleveland 96-80 on Wednesday. Milwaukee was without center Larry Sanders (illness) and forward Ersan Ilyasova (concussion), who have both missed four straight games.
Knight scored 26 points, O.J. Mayo added 15 off the bench and Giannis Antetokounmpo had 14 for the Bucks, who limited the Cavaliers to 34.1 percent shooting. Milwaukee has held its last three opponents to 35.8 percent.
"That’s the way we’re built," coach Jason Kidd said. "Everybody who plays is going to give us a chance to win by making a play on the offensive or defensive end. That was no different than any other game that we’ve won."
The Bucks converted 13 turnovers into 15 points. They average an East-leading 18.5 points off turnovers.
Knight has averaged 25.3 points and 50.0 percent shooting in his last four games against the Pacers.