April 08, 2014

The Indiana Pacers will head north of the boarder later this week in their return to the playoffs. For now, they'll go as north as Milwaukee to cap the regular season.

With their postseason fate determined, the Pacers are afforded the luxury of resting key personnel Wednesday night against the last-place Bucks.

Indiana (44-37) is one game ahead of Detroit in the Eastern Conference, but it went 3-1 in the season series to give it the tiebreaker, the seventh seed and a first-round series with Atlantic Division champion Toronto.

The Pacers avoided a possible matchup with reigning East champion Cleveland by winning five of six after beating New York 102-90 in their home finale Tuesday.

"It's the best feeling. Just putting it in perspective from last year. Last year we had a different feeling on this night because we had one more game ahead of us to (try to) get in the playoffs," said forward Paul George, citing last year's failure to reach the postseason.

This time, Indiana gets a chance to plan ahead for the Raptors, but coach Frank Vogel hasn't decided if he'll give anyone the night off.

George could be a candidate since he's finishing his first full season after suffering a horrific broken leg with Team USA ahead of the 2014 Olympics. He's averaging a career-high 23.1 points.

George had 15 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and a career high-tying seven turnovers as seven Pacers scored in double digits in a 104-99 win at Milwaukee on March 2.

Indiana has won 10 of its last 13 against the Bucks (33-48), including four of five at Bradley Center.

George Hill is averaging 16.5 points while hitting 13 of 27 from 3-point range in his last four meetings with the Bucks. He enters this one after making 7 of 11 from long range while totaling 37 points over the last two games, matching George with a team-high 19 against the Knicks.

The Bucks are concluding a sixth straight season without a winning record while missing the playoffs for the fourth time over that stretch.

They've dropped nine of 12 after never leading and trailing by as many as 20 in a 107-98 loss at Orlando on Monday.

"When you're down in this league, you have to be perfect," coach Jason Kidd said. "Whether it's two minutes or three minutes, your defense has to be perfect. And offensively you have maybe a small margin of error because of the 3-point shot."

Greg Monroe had 23 points after being rested a day earlier as Milwaukee won 109-108 in overtime at Philadelphia. The center was averaging 11.8 points over the previous 12 games.

Monroe has totaled 39 points during the past two meetings with Indiana, while Khris Middleton has put up 56 over that span.

The guard is averaging 26.5 points on 20-for-35 shooting during the past two games after sitting out three in a row with a thigh injury.

Forward Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 22 points against the Pacers last month. He managed three more combined in the last two games after averaging 27.7 during the previous three.

You May Like