The Milwaukee Bucks will be the more rested team when they host the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night.
While the Pacers were blowing out the Memphis Grizzlies 134-116 on Tuesday in Indianapolis, the Bucks had a day off after a 134-106 win over the visiting Portland Trail Blazers on Monday.
The clubs will meet for the first time this season after the Bucks topped the Pacers 3-1 in last year’s season series by dominating the two home games.
The teams were in line to meet in the first round of last year’s playoffs until the fourth-seeded Pacers were swept by the fifth-seeded Miami Heat in the first round.
Miami then shocked Milwaukee, the winningest team in the regular season a year ago, in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The Bucks were firing on all cylinders Monday to tip off their two-game homestand. Six Milwaukee players scored 13 or more points, with Jrue Holiday (22) and Bobby Portis (21) leading the way.
The win allowed Milwaukee to snap a two-game losing streak. The Bucks followed another two-game skid earlier in January with a two-game winning streak.
The Bucks have had three-, four- and two-game winning streaks since Jan. 1.
Bryn Forbes, brought in to Milwaukee this season to help fill the void left behind by Malcolm Brogdon’s departure a year earlier, noted Monday that using the Pacers as a building block in a winning streak won’t be easy.
“Honestly, I think people get up for this game (against) the Bucks,” he said. “They’re No. 1 in the East for the last couple of years, so I think people are locked in when they play us. Every team is bringing their best when they play us, honestly.
“Every team is ready to go when they play us and maybe they are a little more focused and locked in than they are on some other nights and maybe just trying to prove a point.”
While the Pacers will complete a back-to-back set Tuesday, they benefitted from the one-sided nature of the Monday game, not extending any player past 35 minutes.
Domantas Sabonis had 32 points and 13 rebounds in the win, while Brogdon warmed up for a meeting with his former teammates with 23 points and seven assists.
Brogdon, who left the Bucks for a four-year, $85 million deal in a sign-and-trade after the 2019 season, was more of a ball distributor than a scorer in three head-to-head matchups with his old team last season. He averaged just 10.3 points but also 8.3 assists in those games.
Milwaukee won its two home games last season against Indiana by an average of 23.5 points.
Brogdon averaged 16.5 points and 7.1 assists last season for the Pacers. He has bumped the scoring up to 22.9 this year while keeping the assists (7.0) basically the same.
Brogdon credits the unselfish Sabonis for his boost in scoring.
“I think he and (the Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic) are the best passing bigs in the league,” he said. “He’s very versatile. He’s an All-Star.”
–Field Level Media