Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 8:30 PM ET at the BMO Harris Bradley Center
Game Preview: Pacers (41-13) at Bucks (10-44)
Wheat Hotchkiss | Updated: February 21, 2014, 4:30 p.m.
Coming off a disappointing loss in Minnesota, the Pacers will look to bounce back on Saturday night against the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Pacers made a surprise, last-minute move just before Thursday afternoon's trade deadline, sending veteran forward Danny Granger and a future second round draft pick to Philadelphia in exchange for guard/forward Evan Turner and forward Lavoy Allen. In a corresponding roster move, Indiana waived second-year guard Orlando Johnson.
What impact this trade has on the Pacers — both in the short term and the long run — remains to be seen. Granger was the longest-tenured player in the Pacers locker room (drafted by the team in 2005, three years before the new senior member of the Pacers, Roy Hibbert). He was a mentor to Paul George and universally liked in the locker room (as was Johnson).
However, Granger, who led the Pacers in scoring for five straight seasons, had yet to regain his old form after battling injuries the past two years. Turner, who has averaged 17.4 points and 6.0 rebounds per game this season, is younger and more athletic. Turner isn't as good an outside shooter as Granger, but he is a good ball-handler who can create off the bounce for himself and his teammates.
Turner and Allen will not play Saturday night in Milwaukee and are not expected to address the Indianapolis media until Sunday afternoon at the earliest.
The Bucks have the worst record in the NBA — at 10-44, Milwaukee has five fewer wins than the next-worst team (Philadelphia) — though they did beat Orlando 104-100 on Tuesday. Milwaukee ranks 29th in points scored per game and 30th in field goal percentage. The Pacers defense is the best in the NBA in both categories. The Bucks have been ravaged by injuries this season, with 11 players combining to miss 177 games (through Thursday morning), leading Milwaukee to use 23 different starting lineups so far this season.
Having dropped three of five games, the Pacers will want to use Saturday's contest to work out some kinks in their offense. First and foremost, they need to minimize mistakes. Indiana had 21 turnovers in Wednesday's loss in Minnesota. While Paul George was brilliant at times, scoring 35 points, he also had seven of Indiana's giveaways.
The Pacers also need to get back to a more balanced offensive effort. George should be the primary option, but other players ought to be getting more involved. In the past two games, the Pacers have played teams thin in the frontcourt (Atlanta was without Al Horford and Pero Antic before losing Gustavo Ayon in the third quarter, Minnesota didn't dress starting center Nikola Pekovic and lost backup Ronny Turiaf midway through the fourth), yet All-Star center Roy Hibbert combined for just 14 points on 14 shot attempts in those two contests.
After their recent swoon, Indiana is now just one game ahead of Miami in the loss column. Winning on the road is never a given in the NBA, but if the Pacers want to beat out the Heat for the number one seed in the East, winning games against teams like Milwaukee is a necessity, regardless of venue.
Bucks: Carlos Delfino (out, right foot surgery), Larry Sanders (out, fractured orbital bone), Ekpe Udoh (questionable, right knee swelling)
"I’m probably not the coach of this team if not for Danny Granger…I thanked him yesterday and I want to thank him publicly for being my biggest supporter when (I was) the interim coach here, trying to turn that team around big then and obviously trying to earn the job. To have your best player be your strongest supporter, it’s something I’ll always be grateful for." –Frank Vogel
"(Granger) has helped me so far along this way. He’s been my biggest supporter, someone who’s always been in my corner. Even in the moment where I had to step up when he went down, he was constantly in my ear to get better and improve and help this team win…This is a very emotional day for me." -Paul George
“(Pacers President of Basketball Operations) Larry (Bird) wants to win now. He’s said that from the beginning of the year. He told us that when brought Andrew here. He makes the right moves." –Roy Hibbert
"Obviously it hurts, but we’ve got to move forward. Danny’s going on his next part of his career, and all of us got to go on our next part of our career. This is something that will linger for today, but we’ve got a big game tomorrow. We’ve got to get ready for it." -Paul George
“We’re just ready to get back on a winning track and win at least eight, nine in a row. It has to start tomorrow.” –Roy Hibbert
- Indiana has won three straight and eight of the last 10 regular season matchups with Milwaukee.
- The Bucks traded guards Gary Neal and Luke Ridnour to Charlotte on Thursday in exchange for guard Ramon Sessions and forward Jeff Adrien.
- Bucks forward John Henson has blocked at least one shot in 20 straight games, tying Roy Hibbert for the third-longest streak in the NBA this season. Hibbert's streak lasted from Oct. 29-Dec. 7.
November 15: Roy Hibbert flirted with a triple-double as the Pacers cruised past the Bucks 104-77 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Hibbert finished the night with 24 points (on 8-of-10 shooting), 10 rebounds, and a season-high eight blocks.
Paul George chipped in 22 points for the Pacers, who shot 51 percent from the field while holding Milwaukee to just 34 percent. O.J. Mayo led the Bucks with 20 points, while Khris Middleton and Gary Neal each added 11.
Broadcast Information | Find Local Listings »
TV: FOX Sports Indiana – Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Brooke Olzendam (sideline reporter/host)
Radio: FM 107.5/AM 1070 The Fan, Pacers Radio Network – Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Michael Grady (studio host)