Pacers’ Brogdon set for reunion with Bucks

Field Level Media

November 16, 2019 at 7:48 am.

The top two teams in the Central Division bring different approaches to the court when the Milwaukee Bucks and host Indiana Pacers meet for the first time this season on Saturday night.

A year after Milwaukee ran away with the division by a whopping 12 games, the Bucks (8-3) have needed six wins in their last seven games just to move 1 1/2 games ahead of the Pacers (7-5) in the early going this season.

That margin was just one game before the Pacers fell 111-102 at Houston on Friday night on the front half of a back-to-back.

Indiana lost the game despite doing what it has done very well this season — defend the 3-point arc. The Pacers limited the Rockets to 14 of 46 (30.4 percent) from long distance and just 40.4 percent shooting overall, but they came up short in large part because they shot 3s (8-for-33, 24.2 percent) even worse than the hosts.

In the Bucks, the Pacers will see another team that shoots more 3-pointers than most others. Milwaukee has launched an average of 41.2 (the second-highest figure in the NBA) and made an average of 13.9 (fourth highest) in its fast start.

The Bucks enjoyed Friday off, celebrating their latest conquest, a 124-115 home win over the Chicago Bulls on Thursday.

Giannis Antetokounmpo complemented 16 rebounds with 38 points to propel the Bucks to 120 or more points for the seventh time already this season.

Milwaukee leads the league in points per game (120.3) and ranks fourth in field-goal percentage (.473).

The Bucks didn’t seem to skip a beat without Khris Middleton, who sustained a bruised left thigh Sunday at Oklahoma City. Eric Bledsoe helped take up the slack Thursday with 31 points to go with Antetokounmpo’s 38.

In all, 11 Bucks saw at least 10-plus minutes of action. Ten of them scored.

“There are lots of different directions we can go,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said about his options without Middleton. “There are a lot of guys that have played together and won games together.”

That group no longer includes Malcolm Brogdon, the Bucks’ second-round pick in 2016.

After three seasons that far exceeded normal expectations of a second-rounder, including earning Rookie of the Year honors in 2016-17, Brogdon was dealt to Indiana in a sign-and-trade move in July. Milwaukee received a 2020 first-round pick and two future second-rounders in return.

The 26-year-old has been better than ever this season, averaging 19.2 points per game. That’s up from 15.6 for the Bucks last season.

Brogdon was all business when asked this week about his first Bucks reunion.

“It’s just another game for me,” he said. “Looking forward to seeing those guys, competing against them. I had a lot of good games in there, a lot of good memories in there. That’s all I got to say about it.”

Turns out, maybe that was a good thing, as Brogdon experienced a sore back Friday in Houston and was limited to nine minutes and two points. He likely will be a game-time decision on Saturday.