The Pacers lost an opportunity to close out the Bucks because of bad substitutions

The Indiana Pacers roared out to a first-quarter lead in Game 5 in Milwaukee. It was all downhill from there and some bad substitutions made it worse.
Apr 21, 2024; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Indiana Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle reacts in the
Apr 21, 2024; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Indiana Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle reacts in the / Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The Indiana Pacers had a golden opportunity to close out the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 5. Milwaukee was without both Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard for the second straight game. It was the perfect opportunity for the Pacers to move on to the second round early and get some rest.

Instead, they got absolutely torched. The Bucks killed them in the final three quarters of the game and the Pacers got blown out 115-92. It was a discouraging loss because now both of their big guns could potentially return in Game 6. Now, the Bucks have life.

The Bucks may not have had life if not for some odd substitution patterns by Rick Carlisle. At one point in the game, they had McConnel, Haliburton, Sheppard, Toppin, and Jackson in. Why would that lineup ever need to be together in a closeout playoff game? The Bucks preceded to go on an immediate 6-0 run after that.

Rick Carlisle and the Pacers gave the Bucks new life after Game 5 letdown

The Pacers' offense looked stagnant for the final three quarters of the game. Once they weren't able to get out and run, they didn't know what to do. Despite Tyrese Haliburton hitting four three-pointers, he wasn't able to create enough offense for everyone else. He had just six assists.

Myles Turner was MIA for a large portion of the third quarter for unknown reasons. Perhaps he was hurt. He looked like he wasn't cutting right. Whatever the reason was, he needed to be out there more because the bench was pitiful. The highest-scoring bench in the league mustered just 30 points, with some of that coming in garbage time.

Now, the series shifts back to Indianapolis. I would categorize this as a must-win. If this series goes back to Milwaukee for a Game 7, it's over. They have to win Game 6 in front of their home crowd. The crowd does give them juice, so maybe that will be the difference.


Unless the offense gets some points in the half-court, it won't be. Game 6 on Thursday is the most important Pacers game in the last decade.