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Field Level Media - Professional sports content solutions | FLM

Apr 29, 2024 7:42 pm

With or without stars, Bucks look to stay alive vs. Pacers

Lillard

The Milwaukee Bucks are on the brink of playoff elimination much sooner than forecasted.

And it could happen with their top two players out of the lineup.

Third-seeded Milwaukee aims to keep its season going Tuesday night when it hosts the Indiana Pacers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference first-round series. Sixth-seeded Indiana holds a 3-1 series lead.

The Bucks have been without two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo (calf) for the entire series and lost star guard Damian Lillard (Achilles) with an injury late in Game 3.

Milwaukee coach Doc Rivers said the focus has to be narrowed to Tuesday’s game — regardless of who is available for the Bucks in the must-win game. Antetokounmpo and Lillard were listed as doubtful on the injury report Monday evening.

“One game at a time,” Rivers said. “We have two games left at home. They have one game left at home. That’s how you can look at it. The first thing is that we have to win the first game at home. We can talk about the rest after that.”

The Bucks have badly missed Antetokounmpo in the series, but his teammates understand that he hasn’t been able to physically go against Indiana.

“He’s the ultimate team player, but obviously we don’t want him to put himself in any danger he shouldn’t be in,” Milwaukee center Brook Lopez said. “He’s going through all the rehab stuff, handling it the right way, getting his treatment. He’s been around the team, which has been great for us.

“The guys that are going into Game 5, we have to prepare the way we’ve been preparing, and we’ll see what happens. We just want Giannis to do whatever the smartest thing is for him to do.”

Lillard averaged 32.3 points in the first three games of the series. Khris Middleton is averaging 26.3 with a high of 42 for the Bucks.

The Pacers dropped the first game of the best-of-seven series before winning the last three contests. Indiana scored 94 points in its loss and has averaged 124 points in the three victories.

Star guard Tyrese Haliburton has noticed the difference.

“Game 1, I felt like they dictated the tempo. I would say the story of the last three games is that we have,” Haliburton said. “In a world and a league that says, ‘Oh, you can’t play fast in the playoffs,’ we don’t really believe in that. We’re going to be who we are and put our identity and our imprint on every game.”

Haliburton made five 3-pointers and scored 24 points in Sunday’s 126-113 home victory in Game 4. Myles Turner was the biggest star with 29 points, nine rebounds and seven 3-point baskets.

The seven treys tied the franchise mark for a playoff game shared by Chuck Person (1991), Reggie Miller (1995, 2000), Paul George (2014) and Bojan Bogdanovic (2018).

“He was sensational on both ends of the floor,” Pacers big man Pascal Siakam said of Turner. “Just playing with a lot of maturity and force, which is what we need from him. … Just being a beast out there on both ends. He’s been great.”

Guard TJ McConnell echoed Siakam’s thoughts.

“He’s been doing it all year,” McConnell said of Turner. “He’s just the anchor to our defense and he can be a mismatch for a lot of teams the way he’s able to step out and make shots. … He was obviously really, really good and deserved that — those fans calling his name. He played really well.”

–Field Level Media

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