Pacers cannot let their record against bad teams haunt them vs Milwaukee

With how inconsistent the Pacers have been against bad teams, they cannot let their past haunt them against a Giannis-less Bucks team.
Milwaukee Bucks v Indiana Pacers
Milwaukee Bucks v Indiana Pacers / Andy Lyons/GettyImages

The Indiana Pacers have a golden opportunity right in front of them, and it is up to them to take advantage.

Going into the upcoming first-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks, there was speculation about Giannis Antetokounmpo's status for the start of the series, with his recent calf issues possibly putting a wrench in Milwaukee's title hopes this season. Earlier today, Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Bucks are preparing to be without Antetokounmpo for the start of the series, due to management for his calf strain with the hope that he can return sometime later in the series.

This is, of course, fantastic news for the Pacers. Giannis is arguably the best player in the league, and the Bucks are significantly worse without him. In addition to this, the Pacers already have Milwaukee's number this season, as they dominated the season series 4-1 against them, with every win coming before Indiana even traded for Pascal Siakam.

Milwaukee will most likely be extremely cautious with this injury, as calf injuries are perhaps some of the scariest to deal with. As we saw from Kevin Durant's experience in 2019, if mishandled, the calf injuries can potentially lead to Achilles injuries and that opens up a whole new world of problems for the Bucks, none of which they want to deal with right now.

Of course, it would be foolish to dismiss the Bucks altogether just because Giannis will miss a few games. It is imperative for the Pacers to take advantage of this and not fool around to start the series. As we know, Indiana has a history, specifically this season, of dropping plenty of winnable games to inferior teams.

This season, the Pacers had by far the most losses of any playoff team against below .500 teams, with a record of 20-14, with second place being, ironically, the Milwaukee Bucks at 10 losses. These easy losses have accumulated to be one of the most frustrating parts of the Pacers' 2024 campaign, with Indiana potentially fighting for a top-two seed if they took care of business and won at least half of the games they lost to these inferior teams.

Originally, this was not anticipated to be a problem against Milwaukee, who march into the playoffs as a third seed with two superstar players. However, with Giannis most likely missing the first two games, the Bucks are 'defanged,' so to speak, and they will have to rely more on Damian Lillard and the other players such as Brook Lopez, Khris Middleton, and Bobby Portis. Going forward, it is imperative for Indiana to not play down to their competition, as even with Lillard, the Bucks are a far inferior team, especially with Siakam there to take some pressure off Haliburton.

The Pacers made it this far, and now they have a golden opportunity to win their first playoff series since 2014, exactly one decade ago. It is up to Tyrese Haliburton, Pascal Siakam, and the rest of the crew to take advantage of this opening and steal homecourt advantage in the first two games.

Next. Next story. The three most important players in the Pacers' first-round playoff series. dark

At a minimum, the series should be tied 1-1 heading to Indiana for game three, but 2-0 is very possible and preferred. We'll see how they handle business on Sunday.