The Milwaukee Bucks travel to Indianapolis on Thursday to take on the Indiana Pacers as both teams look to solidify their respective postseason seeding.
The Bucks (44-25) have a chance of overtaking the Brooklyn Nets for second place in the Eastern Conference with three games left and are still alive for the top seed — three games behind the Philadelphia 76ers with three to play.
Indiana (33-36) secured a berth in the play-in tournament with its 103-94 victory over the Sixers on Tuesday night. The Pacers are tied with Charlotte for eighth place in the East, but the Hornets have the head-to-head tiebreaker. Indiana entered Wednesday’s games one game ahead of the Washington Wizards, who also have the tiebreaker with the Pacers.
Following their game against the Bucks, the Pacers close the regular season with back-to-back games this weekend at home against the Los Angeles Lakers and in Tampa against the Toronto Raptors.
“We knew that if we won games, we could play our way into it,” Indiana’s Caris LeVert said. “But we’re still trying to move up and see where we can go. This is a good milestone for us, but we’ve still got three, four games here this week.”
The Pacers beat the Sixers, who were without Joel Embiid (non-COVID-19 illness) for the 20th time this season, outscoring them 52-32 in the second half after trailing at the half.
Domantas Sabonis recorded his ninth triple-double of the season with 16 points, 15 assists and 13 rebounds while LeVert scored 13 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter to lead the comeback.
“We just really dug in,” said Doug McDermott, who scored 20 points. “They were rolling there in the first half a little bit and I thought it was crucial there at the end of the half that we got it down to about 11 or 12.”
Milwaukee took care of business with a 114-102 home win over the Orlando Magic on Tuesday, a day after a loss to the San Antonio Spurs snapped a five-game winning streak.
The Bucks close the regular season by hosting the Miami Heat on Saturday and then a taking a quick trip to Chicago to face the Bulls on Sunday.
“Obviously (Monday) we had a stinker,” said Bobby Portis, who had 10 points and 15 rebounds against Orlando. “San Antonio, they just shot the hell out of it. But we’ve been coming together as a team. Hopefully, our team is trending in the right direction and peaking at the right time.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo once again led Milwaukee with 27 points and 12 rebounds, and delivered as the closer, scoring 12 of those points in the fourth quarter. Donte DiVincenzo also had 19 points.
“I think he got the ball in a couple good spots,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “Donte got him the ball for a couple free throws to start the quarter. I felt like he found them in a sideline pick-and-roll action, the two of them. We needed that.”
For Milwaukee, forward Axel Toupane (right oblique strain) remains out.
The Pacers were without Malcolm Brogdon (right hamstring strain), Jeremy Lamb (sore left knee) and Edmond Sumner (left knee contusion), as well as Myles Turner (right foot), who is out indefinitely. T.J. Warren (left foot) will miss the rest of the season.
–Field Level Media