INDIANAPOLIS, IN -- The Indiana Pacers host the Milwaukee Bucks tonight at 7:00 P.M. ET in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Pacers are coming off of an impressive 112-83 road win over the Philadelphia 76ers. Indiana currently sits at the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference with a 7-5 record. Milwaukee currently holds the 13th spot in the East with a 5-7 record. Despite their differences in current affairs, both teams started the season with an 0-3 record. The difference between their success following these poor starts was; Indiana has gone 6-2 since their 0-3 start, meanwhile, the Bucks have gone 5-4 since their 0-3 start.
Indiana is getting Rodney Stuckey back from a right ankle sprain. Stuckey has missed the past four games. George Hill is listed as probable for tonight's game. All signs point to Hill playing tonight, but he will go through an examination prior to the game to determine whether or not he will play. Myles Turner remains to be out while he is recovering from surgery to repair the chip fracture in his left thumb. The Milwaukee Bucks have no injuries to report. It is very rare for a team to not have any injuries at any point of the season, not to mention after 12 games.
Since it is expected that George Hill is going to play tonight, the Pacers are projected to use the following starting lineup; (PG) George Hill, (SG) Monta Ellis, (SF) C.J. Miles, (PF) Paul George, and (C) Ian Mahinmi. With the return of Rodney Stuckey, the Pacers' second unit is expected to be; (PG) Rodney Stuckey, (SG) Glenn Robinson, (SF) Chase Budinger, (PF) Lavoy Allen, and (C) Jordan Hill. Milwaukee uses Jabari Parker at the power forward position, so the Pacers are expected to go with their "small-ball" rotation to match that.
Milwaukee is expected to use the following lineup as their starting unit; (PG) Michael Carter-Williams, (SG) Khris Middleton, (SF) Giannis Antetokounmpo, (PF) Jabari Parker and (C) Greg Monroe. Greivis Vasquez, Jerryd Bayless, O.J. Mayo, John Henson, and Johnny O'Bryant is expected to be their second unit. Milwaukee appears to go mainly nine players deep in their rotation, but they do give O'Bryant 5-to-10 minutes a night. Milwaukee has holes in their starting unit and a lot of holes in their bench, so it really is not surprising to see why they are struggling to start the season.
Indiana appears to be a significantly better team on paper than the Bucks, even without Myles Turner in the equation. The Pacers have mismatches with Paul George, George Hill and Monta Ellis. C.J. Miles won't be asked to do a lot with the ball in terms of individual offense, but he should get a lot of open jump shot opportunities created by his teammates ball handling creations. Ian Mahinmi should see the same in terms of some easy setups from his teammates. Monroe has poor execution in terms of defensive rotations, so the Pacers should be able to find Mahinmi in the pick-and-roll and near the basket off of dribble penetrations and quality passing. On paper, this Pacers teams appears to have plenty of options to attack this Bucks team.
From a defensive standpoint, the Pacers starters appear to simply outmatch the Bucks. Carter-Williams, Middleton, Antetokounmpo, and Parker all have difficult matchups that won't result in easy results from isolation. Greg Monroe is the only Bucks player in their starting lineup that has a mismatch, but poor floor spacing from the Bucks should allow for the Pacers to frequently send help to create pressure on Monroe. Milwaukee will have a tough time scoring if they rely on individual offense, so expect them to go with more of a team concept offensive approach to beat the Pacers defense.
Indiana's bench unit should see similar success that their starters are expected to see. Rodney Stuckey should have no problems creating offense with his ball handling skills, so the Pacers will have the luxury of having another playmaker beyond their starting unit. It should be made a key to have either (George) Hill, (Paul) George, Ellis, or Stuckey in the game to setup the role players that don't thrive creating for themselves in isolation situations. Nobody else on the bench can consistently thrive in isolation situations, so again, making sure that either George Hill, Paul George, Monta Ellis or Rodney Stuckey is in the game will be important for an effective full 48-minutes by the offense.
From a defensive standpoint, the Pacers bench unit should have no problems against Milwaukee's bench. Of course the benches don't straight up go head-to-head, but the Milwaukee starters shouldn't pose too big of a threat against Indiana's bench. The only problems that could arise is if Lavoy Allen has to guard Jabari Parker and if Jordan Hill has to guard Greg Monroe. But other than that, the second unit of the Pacers should be able to hold their own defensively throughout this game. Indiana's depth in the areas of playmakers and fitting role players should cause a significant amount of problems for the Bucks throughout this game, which is why it is hard to see the Bucks winning on paper. But of course, that is on paper, because that is with typical performances in mind. There could be shooting slumps, injuries or simply a bad game, so again, the Pacers should win this game on paper pending any unexpected variables.
Tip-off for this game is at 7:00 P.M. ET. This game is at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. Television viewers can see this game on Fox Sports Indiana or on NBA League Pass. Radio listeners can hear the game on 1070 AM or 93.5 FM in the Indianapolis market.