The Indiana Pacers continue to struggle with fundamental play as they fall on the road to the Milwaukee Bucks, struggling to solve the riddle of the Bucks defense almost as much as they struggle to play defense. Milwaukee thrived off of turnovers despite committing 22 themselves, scoring 34. Milwaukee benefited from easy buckets in transition, particularly the lethal play of Giannis Antetokounmpo in the open court, leading the Bucks with 27 points with 10 assists.
Antetokounmpo was flashy, but Jabari Parker also put in the work, scoring 27 as well, shooting 4-6 from three point range. The Bucks entered without much success from deep, but were a collected 12-27 as a team as the perplexing three point defense from the Pacers seemed to allow numerous open looks, which Milwaukee seized. As a team, the Bucks shot a staggering 58%, doing so with 62 points in the paint, outscoring Indiana 22-6 in the paint in the final quarter, putting them away despite a brief push by the Pacers.
Paul George led the way for Indiana with 23 points, but had six turnovers in a night that saw an unusually high number of loose balls and tipped and intercepted passes. Neither team was good with ball control, but the Pacers struggled with the Bucks' length in not only holding onto the ball, but coming up with loose balls. Indiana may be a work in progress, but there's a lot of progress to be made.
Offensively, Indiana seems stuck between fast paced and a deliberate half court set. Indiana's best success so far this season has come pushing the ball, and against the set Bucks defense, they had a lot of struggles, shooting under 47% for the game. Part of that was due to inefficiency of Al Jefferson, who was just 1-8 for five points.
Jefferson is supposed to be the "slow-down go-to" option for Indiana's easy bucket opportunities, but has shown no sense around the rim so far this season, being outplayed in the low-post scoring threat role by Kevin Seraphin. Meanwhile, the other underwhelming performance continues to come from Jeff Teague, who had 16 points, but was 4-11 from the floor with four turnovers.
Off the bench, Aaron Brooks looked solid again, scoring eight, but it's C.J. Miles that continues to be an invaluable piece to a bench trying to find its way without Rodney Stuckey. Miles had 19 points tonight, a pair of threes, but was around for loose balls to salvage some less than endearing moments from the offense. Elsewhere, Myles Turner had 15, but foul trouble in the third quarter limited his effectiveness, and Monta Ellis had six points to go with 10 assists and three steals.
The Pacers have fallen to 0-3 on the road this season, trailing by double figures in each game. The defense in general may be an issue, but it's a faltering offensive output that has doomed Indiana on the road. In the three road games, Indiana has averaged just 100.6 points per game, while they've broken 115 in both home games. For a team whose best defense is quite literally offense, these offensive road woes are a problem.
Indiana will be back in action on Saturday night when they host the Chicago Bulls. Recent history in this series has favored revenge games, but Indiana enters having lost three straight to dating back to last season. The Pacers will get Chicago playing on the second night of a back-to-back, so it will be up to Indiana to set the tone and bring the fight to the Bulls.