Cleat Geeks

Bucks Fend Off Pacers Rally

The Milwaukee Bucks survived a furious fourth quarter rally from the Indiana Pacers in order to secure their first victory on the current road trip 120-116 on Thursday in Indianapolis. The win was only the fourth win on the road for the Bucks this season.greg monroe bucks.widea

The Bucks came out ready to go tonight. They established a good tempo to the game and the Pacers struggled to meet their energy level. Establishing an up tempo pace to the game was essential to the Bucks being successful in this game. The Pacers played last night in Chicago against the Bulls and they lost a close hard fought game in overtime while the Bucks had the night off. The Bucks needed to make this an energy and tempo game. They accomplished that by allowing their ability to create turnovers in the first quarter as the kick start to several fast break opportunities. The Bucks held a nine point lead after the first quarter as they forced eight Pacer’s turnovers in the opening frame while shooting 63% in the quarter themselves. The second quarter saw more of the same as the Bucks lead stretched to 13 points and shoot 59% for the half. Greg Monroe who has struggled shooting in recent games had 17 points in the first half while Khris Middleton continued his recent hot shooting with 13 first half points.

The third quarter opened, not surprisingly, in horrible fashion for the Bucks. One of the Bucks season problem areas has been how the team closes and opens certain quarters. The theme held true again Thursday. The Pacers opened the third quarter on an 11-2 run that forced a Bucks timeout and gave the Pacers a 63-61 lead. While a slow start out of the locker room has been a disturbing trend, the Bucks deserve credit for responding to it this time around. The Bucks answered the Pacers 11-2 run with a 28-14 run of their own to close the quarter and take a 12 point lead to the final frame.

A jumper by Michael Carter Williams with under five minutes to play made it seem as if the Bucks would be able to coast this one home. Sadly the Pacers would proceed to score 19 of the games next 25 points to close the score to 117-114. The Pacers would have several shots at the tie from three point range that would miss and the Bucks were able to secure enough rebounds and hit enough free throws to survive the Pacers late comeback. The reasons the Pacers were allowed to get back into the game is because of the Bucks doing a bad job handling the traps and press attempts of the Pacers. The Bucks had at least six turnovers in the final quarter and many of those occurred late in the game. The Bucks need to do a better job of putting games away especially when they are on the road. Also the Bucks had a hard time matching up with the small line-up the Pacers went to from the middle of the fourth quarter to the end of the game. In this line-up the Pacers were basically playing Paul George in a position equivalent to center.

KrisMiddletonBucksKris Middleton again led the way offensively for the Bucks with 33 points. All five Bucks starters scored in double figures. Monroe and Middleton combined for 56 points and the Bucks starters combined to score 95 of the Bucks 120 points. It was good to see Monroe find his shot again by hitting 10 of 12 attempts.

While it is good the Bucks were able to hang on for the win on Thursday night there are remaining red flags as well. This marked another game where the Bucks allowed the opponent to shoot over 50%. This was the first time in eight games that the Bucks won when they allowed an opponent to shoot over 50%. The Bucks also allowed an opponent to score 100 points for the 20th game already this season. The Bucks are just 3-17 in games where they allow an opponent to score over 100 points. The bottom line is if this team is going to make any kind of run at a playoff spot this season the defense is going to need to be much better than it is currently. NBA games are really hard to win when you allow people to shoot over 50% and score well over 100 points.

The Bucks wrap up their four game road trip with a Saturday night game against the Timberwolves.


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