The air at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Thursday night was thick with contention and conflict. With a win, the Indiana Pacers would clinch home court advantage in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. The Milwaukee Bucks are currently the ninth seed in the Eastern Conference, and with a loss, the Bucks would fall three games out of the final playoff spot in the East. In the end, Indiana held tight at home, winning a battle of a game which saw 48 fouls, four technical fouls, and one ejection.
Indiana began the game by hitting their first seven shots, which included two 3-point shots from Danny Granger. Granger is shooting just over 50% from long range, which leads the NBA in April. Indiana had three players score over 20 points in the game, led by Granger’s 29. David West put up 21 points and 14 rebounds, for his sixth game in a row scoring in double digits. Indiana also had 10 assists on their first 13 field goals from the floor.
The Bucks fell behind 34-29 after the first quarter, but went on a 17-4 run to end the half. Indiana bounced back after halftime, making an 18-2 run of their own. Indiana led by 15 at one point. Milwaukee chipped away, but could never close the gap.
The game broke down several times in the fourth quarter, where tensions came to a head, and players nearly came to blows. Tyler Hansbrough and Mike Dunleavy tumbled to the floor in a heap, and a shoving match ensued. Near the end of the game, Bucks bench player Larry Sanders picked up two quick technical fouls by taunting and shoving several Pacers players. Coaches from both teams cleared the bench, and Sanders had to be escorted to the locker room.
Indiana has won a NBA-high seven games in a row, and sit in the third spot in the Eastern Conference. The Bucks have lost three in a row, and are currently ninth in the east, on the outside looking in at the NBA Playoffs.