Why is it that the worst teams in the NBA always seem to play better against championship contenders? The Milwaukee Bucks entered Thursday’s contest with an 11-45 record, but the team did not have a deer in the headlights look when they faced the Eastern Conference leading Indiana Pacers. The Bucks gave the Pacers all they could handle, but Milwaukee ultimately fell short in its upset bid highlighting the team’s ineptness in the closing minutes of the game.
The Pacers survived a scare winning 101-96 at home, but even though the game was close, the Pacers should not dwell on it going forward. While Roy Hibbert sparked the win with 24 points and 12 rebounds, Paul George and Lance Stephenson each contributed 18 points to the winning effort. Evan Turner is still trying to adjust to his new role, but he had another solid performance with eight points in just 20 minutes.
Indiana maintained its leading over the defending champs in the Eastern Conference race where the top seed represents more than just bragging rights. Home-court advantage is something every team hopes for, but the Pacers are a team that drastically needs this benefit. While Indiana is 28-3 in the friendly confines Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the Pacers are just 16-10 on the road.
The Pacers will want to utilize one of the best home-court advantages in the NBA in the most pivotal moments of the season, but in order to do so the team must remain atop the standings for the remainder of the regular season. One might see home-court advantage as trivial, but true contenders know what this earned luxury means to a team’s overall success.
Greg Douglas is an NBA writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on twitter @thegpd93 or add him to your Google Network.