The challenges for the Indiana Pacers keep stacking up, as their opponents for the In-Season Tournament semifinals have been revealed. Following a complete blowout of the New York Knicks, the Milwaukee Bucks have become the second East team to advance to the Vegas Semis and will face the Pacers on Thursday.
Despite going 4-0 in group play and beating the Celtics in improbable fashion in the quarterfinals, Indiana's road has not gotten any easier.
Going into the Knicks/Bucks matchup, Pacers fans were hoping for a Knicks win, as they believe they match better with Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson rather than Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard. However, the Knicks never really had a chance, and despite 41 points from Julius Randle, got blown out all the same with a final score of 146-122.
While a Bucks matchup will be tough on Indiana, it is important to know that the Pacers have beaten this Bucks team once already this season, that win coming on November 9 when the Pacers came back from a fourth-quarter deficit to win behind 29 points from Tyrese Haliburton.
However, what's important to note is that Damian Lillard was not playing in the past matchup, and Indiana will most likely have to deal with Lillard on Thursday.
Lillard adds another wrinkle in Indiana's In-Season Tournament championship plans as he gives more scoring and playmaking assistance to Giannis Antetokounmpo, who scored 54 in the aforementioned November loss.
With Lillard returning and a motivated Antetokounmpo, who scored 35 against New York to go with Lillard's 28 points, Indiana will certainly have their work cut out for them, especially on the defensive end.
Hopefully, if they keep up the offensive pressure and play similar defense to how they played on Monday against Boston, they can potentially come out with a win and advance to the tournament finals against either the Pelicans, the Lakers, or the Suns.
Either way, Indiana will need to do a lot of homework on their current opponents, especially number zero, whose battle with fellow number zero Haliburton will surely keep fans invested even more.
Indiana vs Milwaukee tips off from Las Vegas on Thursday, December 7 at 5 PM EST.