Keys to the Indiana Pacers beating the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 1

The Indiana Pacers get to face off against the Bucks without Giannis in the lineup. They still have to keep some other players in check.
Apr 14, 2024; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Pascal Siakam (43) dribbles the
Apr 14, 2024; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Pascal Siakam (43) dribbles the / Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Indiana Pacers are no longer underdogs against the Milwaukee Bucks. They are one of the first-round darlings of the NBA playoffs. Part of that is because the Bucks won't have Giannis Antetokounmpo for at least Game 1 and potentially longer than that.

Even though the Bucks don't have Giannis, they are not going to be an easy team to beat. The Pacers have to make sure that the other players don't pick up the slack. Here are some keys to the game to make sure that Indiana walks out of Milwaukee with the early series lead.

1. Contain Damian Lillard

Damian Lillard becomes the most potent offensive weapon the Bucks have in this game. His ability to get hot should frighten the Pacers coaches. Even though he's had a down year, he can still rack up points in a hurry if he gets things going. Expect him to run a bunch of pick-and-rolls.

Lillard needs to be guarded at the three-point line especially. Indiana can't let him get going from outside because that will open everyone else up. Bobby Portis is a big weapon the Bucks have at their disposal. They can't let him be a scorer. He must be relegated to a good defender and rebounder.

2. Establish Pascal Siakam

Pascal Siakam was not present in any of the other previous matchups between these two teams. He adds another level to the Pacers' offense that they did not have before. He is extremely effective on the inside and is also an excellent corner three-point shooter too.

Getting him in a rhythm early and often will go a long way in this game. If he can be a source of offense early, that takes a lot of pressure off of Tyrese Haliburton and Myles Turner. Turner has become a lot more aggressive offensively, which they still need. But having Siakam inside opens up Turner's three-point shot.

3. Tyrese Haliburton needs to attack the rim

Tyrese Haliburton hasn't been as good of a three-point shooter since his hamstring injury. While it has been better as of late, it's still not at the elite, 40% clip he was at earlier. That's part of the reason why he needs to attack the rim in this game, even if he doesn't shoot.

Driving towards the cup will force Brook Lopez to come over and help. That will open up Turner for shots on the outside. We have already talked about how aggressive Turner has been early in games. His scoring has been a lot better since the All-Star break.

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If the Pacers can do these three things, they should be able to get a big win to start out the series.