A pair of top-three Eastern Conference teams collide in Milwaukee today as the 48-16 Milwaukee Bucks host the 42-23 Indiana Pacers (8 p.m. ET Thursday on TNT).
These teams have gone through some struggles recently. Indiana has lost three of its last five games and the Bucks have now lost two in a row, most recently to the 14-51 Phoenix Suns. This contest will be the Bucks’ first game back at home after a five-game road trip, while the Pacers will be starting a road pair with this matchup.
On paper, the Bucks’ available roster has a lot more offensive firepower and is a bit more versatile on the defensive end. However, the Pacers’ team chemistry has been amazing this season in keeping the team near the top of the conference despite injury problems. So far this season, Milwaukee has won two out of three head-to-head matchups against Indiana.
This NBA game preview will analyze the important narratives and use that knowledge to decide on how should bet on the matchup with our final picks and Indiana Pacers vs Milwaukee Bucks predictions.
Will Myles Turner Be Able to Shoulder More of an Offensive Burden?
Pacers sixth man Domantas Sabonis is currently out as he deals with an ankle injury. Sabonis is a huge part of the team’s offensive attack with his 14.3 points and 2.7 assists in just 24.9 minutes of play per game.
With both Sabonis and Victor Oladipo out, this puts more pressure on starting center Myles Turner to produce. We have come to expect at least 20 points per night from Bojan Bogdanovic over the last several weeks, but Turner is a bit tougher to predict. He can give you 25 points or five points, depending on his confidence level and aggressiveness.
So far, Turner has been an offensive negative in Sabonis’ three-game absence, with averages of 7.7 points, one assist and two turnovers in 30 minutes per contest. Those games were against three teams below .500, as well.
The Bucks present a tough challenge for Turner. Can he step up as a second solid offensive option for the Pacers?
Will Foul Trouble and Poor Free-Throw Shooting Continue to Plague the Greek Freak?
Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo missed the February 25 win against the Chicago Bulls due to knee soreness. He has returned to play the team’s last four games and played well in general, but he has also shown some signs of weakness.
His two main bugaboos as of late are fouls and free-throw shooting. Antetokounmpo has accumulated four, four and six fouls in his last three contests. He is a very physically dominant defender, so foul trouble can really hamper his impact on the game.
As for free throws, the Greek Freak has gone 21-of-38 (55.3 percent) from the line in his last four games. He is not usually a great free-throw shooter, but his season-long average is much better, at 70.8 percent.
There is a definite chance that his knee soreness is impacting these two areas. However, moving back home can certainly help him.
Will Rebounds Play a Key Role in this NBA Game?
The Pacers are not a very good rebounding team, especially without Domantas Sabonis and Victor Oladipo. Those two provide an aggression on the glass that most of the rest of the team is lacking. Starting big men both average fewer than seven rebounds per game.
The Bucks are a pretty good rebounding team, especially on the defensive end. They have good length at all positions, which helps them corral a lot of boards. Antetokounmpo leads the team with 12.6 rebounds per game and then a lot of other players chip in with four to six rebounds per contest.
Indiana already looks like it could have some offensive struggles in this game. Things will get even tougher, though, if it can’t get any second chances after its misses.
Our Preview’s Indiana Pacers vs Milwaukee Bucks Predictions & Betting Picks
The Pacers just don’t have good enough scoring options in this game to test the Bucks’ athletic defense. I think Milwaukee’s scorers will do enough against a strong Indiana defense to win by double digits.
However, this game will be defensive struggle all the way, and Milwaukee’s home crowd will help the team make the big hustle plays to help them cruise. When it comes to the betting picks, these are our Indiana Pacers vs Milwaukee Bucks Predictions:
- The Bucks are rightfully a significant favorite by between 10 or 11 points with our recommended sportsbooks for the American betting market. Our pick is to bet on the Bucks -10pts @ -110 with Bookmaker.
- Both of these teams are better on defense than offense. With two key offensive options out for Indiana, Milwaukee should limit the Pacers very well. Bet the under 221.5 total points @ -115 with BetOnline. The figure is lower with the other bookies.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.