Bucks vs. Pacers odds, prediction: NBA playoffs picks, best bets for Friday

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The Pacers looked more like themselves against the Bucks in Game 2, bouncing back with a 125-108 victory to tie the series at one game apiece.

Indiana likely had some early jitters in the series opener, shooting just 8-of-38 (21.1%) from behind the perimeter. But in Game 2, the Pacers improved to 16-of-36 (44.4%) from beyond the arc.

While both teams have been somewhat consistent with 3-point attempts in the playoffs compared to the regular season, it’s been a completely different story in the rebounding department.

Indiana is outrebounding Milwaukee 95-87 despite finishing just 28th in that category during the regular season.

The absence of Giannis Antetokounmpo has significantly impacted the Bucks’ performance, particularly in the rebounding department.

This deficit is likely to continue as the series shifts to Indiana for Game 3.

Bucks vs. Pacers odds

Team Spread Moneyline Total Bucks +6 (-108) +198 o223.5 (-110) Pacers -6 (-112) -240 u223.5 (-110) Odds via FanDuel

Bucks analysis

Milwaukee is having trouble containing Indiana’s Pascal Siakam. The eight-year veteran is averaging a double-double in the series with 36.5 points and 12 rebounds.

Brook Lopez has handled most of the task in defending Siakam, who is 12-of-18 from the field (66.7%) for 27 points over the first two games in this matchup.

Lopez often picks up Siakam on the perimeter, pulling him further away from the basket and decreasing his opportunities to collect rebounds. If Antetokounmpo were healthy, he’d generally be the player tasked with defending Siakam, allowing Lopez to drop inside and protect the rim.

And with Lopez out of position on the perimeter, the Pacers are attacking the paint where they’ve outscored the Bucks, 92-70.

Although Milwaukee won Game 1 (109-94) primarily because it shot 14-of-37 (37.8%) from the perimeter, replicating that performance on the road inside a boisterous Gainbridge Fieldhouse might be too much to ask.

Pacers analysis

The biggest thing to watch for in this series is identifying which team can better impose their style of play on the opponent. We know the Pacers prefer an up-tempo style, as they ranked second in pace with 102.16 possessions per 48 minutes.

According to the NBA’s Advanced Stats, Game 1 had 97 possessions, followed by 92.5 in Game 2. But while it’s normal to expect fewer possessions in the playoffs, the numbers might suggest the pace of play favored the Bucks.

Tyrese Haliburton #0 of the Indiana Pacers drives around Patrick Beverley #21 of the Milwaukee Bucks during game two of the Eastern Conference First Round Playoffs at Fiserv Forum on April 23, 2024 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Getty Images

What was most impressive about the Pacers’ win in Game 2 was they scored 33 more points than in Game 1 despite having fewer possessions. You’re obviously in a much better position when you can double your 3-point makes and 3-point shooting percentage.

With the Pacers returning home for Game 3, they’re likely to be even more comfortable, and if they can speed up the pace, it could spell trouble for the Bucks.

Bucks vs. Pacers pick

The total for this game opened at 226 and was bet down to as low as 221.5. While that’s probably too big of an adjustment, it’s worth noting that Bucks forward Khris Middleton is questionable after rolling his ankle in Game 2.

Although Middleton had to leave and go into the locker room, he did return to finish with 15 points (6-of-14, 42.8%) in 36 minutes of action. However, the injury was enough to keep Middleton out of Thursday’s practice.

Lopez was the Bucks’ second-leading scorer with 22 points, but Indiana is probably okay with that tradeoff if it means he’ll have less of an impact defensively.

Betting on the NBA?

As for the spread, the Pacers are 5.5-point favorites, which is more than I’d like to lay in a playoff game. Instead, I prefer to slash that number by targeting Indiana on the first-half line of -2.5 at BetRivers.

Pacers point guard Tyrese Haliburton had some interesting comments about the ambiance they encountered in Fiserv Forum.

“We’ve had regular-season crowds better than what we’ve played in the last two games,” Haliburton told reporters.

It’s now over to the Pacers fans to create a raucous atmosphere for Game 3 and get their team out to a fast start.

Pick: Pacers 1H -2.5 (-121, BetRivers)

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