The three most important players in the Pacers vs. Bucks playoff series

The Indiana Pacers will be taking on the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the playoffs.
Jan 3, 2024; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton (0) dribbles the
Jan 3, 2024; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton (0) dribbles the / Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
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3. Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis might be the most important player in this series. He has a calf injury that forced him to miss the final two games of the season for Milwaukee. That injury is something that has to be closely monitored. It's still unclear if he's going to be ready for the beginning of this series.

How many games does he play? How effective will he be when he does? Can the Pacers slow him down? All of these questions will likely determine if the Pacers are able to win this series. Giannis is a top-five player in the league. If Milwaukee doesn't have him, that's a huge loss.

If Milwaukee doesn't have Giannis at all for the series, the Pacers have a shot to win this series in five or six games. It's as simple as that. Lillard isn't at a point in his career where he can carry a team to a playoff series win anymore. He needs Giannis with him.

If Giannis does play, the Pacers can still win this series. They won four of the five matchups this season when the Bucks were healthy anyway. They have a good chance to win in six or seven games if they are able to do everything right on the defensive side of the ball.

We won't know until closer to the start of the series whether he is going to be ready to start the series. The Pacers won't care one way or the other. They'll have a game plan to deal with him and Lillard, especially in the pick-and-roll anymore.

Next. Next story. Why the offseason will be so tough for the Pacers. dark

These are the three players who will tell the story of this first-round matchup. These teams don't like each other. It should be a fun series to watch.