The Indiana Pacers are 8-0 for the first time in franchise history and are looking to go 9-0 for the first time in the NBA since the 2002-03 Dallas Mavericks. They host the Milwaukee Bucks that are banged up and are physically not ready to handle a very tough and healthy Pacers team.
The Bucks dropped their last game to the Orlando Magic and played the entire game without many key starters such as Brandon Knight, Zaza Pachulia, and top reserve Gary Neal. Forward Caron Butler left the game with an injured shoulder as well. The Pacers, on the other hand, are actually on the complete opposite spectrum.
The Pacers’ starting five are healthy, and with a bolstered bench they are one of the hottest teams in the NBA. Not to mention forward Danny Granger is starting to practice and could return as early as next week. This makes the already tough Pacers even more dangerous.
The Pacers’ primary focus this season has been on the defensive end of the court. Pacers are holding teams to just 84.5 points per game while holding opponents to under 40 percent shooting. Not only are they clicking on the defensive end but on the offensive end as well.
The Pacer players are looking for an all-around effort instead of focusing on one star. Forward Paul George is playing like an MVP, Lance Stephenson is looking to take the most-improved player of the year award from last year’s winner in George, and center Roy Hibbert looks to be the defensive player of the year with his 4.4 blocks per game which is leading the NBA.
The only real threat the Bucks give the Pacers is forward O.J Mayo. Stephenson looks to follow up his first career triple-double by now performing on the defensive end on the Bucks’ prime scorer in Mayo. If Stephenson can play defense on Mayo and slow him down the Pacers will easily cruise to a victory. In order for the Bucks to upset the Pacers everyone on the team would have to step up and Mayo would have to score more than 30 points. That seems very unlikely against the top defense in the league.
Justin Logan is an Indiana Pacers writer for Rant Sports. Add him on Facebook.