SportsNBAMilwaukee Bucks

Actions

Pacers hit franchise playoff best 22 3-pointers to beat Bucks 126-113 and take 3-1 lead in series

APTOPIX Bucks Pacers Basketball
Posted at 10:21 AM, Apr 29, 2024

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana center Myles Turner found a simple lesson from last week's Game 1 loss.

When you find the openings, take shots without hesitating.

Turner effectively put his new strategy to use Sunday night and it worked perfectly, again. He had his second straight 29-point game, finished with nine rebounds and four assists and made seven 3-pointers as the Pacers broke the franchise's NBA playoff record with 22 3's to beat Milwaukee 126-113 for a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

“After that first game, we watched a lot of film and I saw some of the holes in the defense and realized there were open shots we could exploit,” Turner said. “A lot of it is read and react, which is pretty much what our whole offense is.”

Turner's play over the last two games has changed the series.

He has produced playoff career highs twice and on a team of sharp-shooters Sunday night might have been the best. While Indiana went 22 of 43 from beyond the arc, Turner was 7 of 9 and even heard his name chanted by fans who once thought he should be traded.

Instead, Turner has the Pacers heading back to Milwaukee for Game 5 with three straight wins and needing one more to reach the Eastern Conference semifinals for the first time since 2014. The Bucks, meanwhile, are trying to avoid a second straight first-round exit.

Sure, the Bucks played without two-time league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and eight-time All-Star Damian Lillard because of injuries Sunday. Antetokounmpo hasn't played since April 9 when he strained his left calf, while Lillard had a walking boot protecting his right foot after hurting his Achilles tendon in Friday night's overtime loss.

Both could miss Tuesday's game, too.

But health has been less of a problem for Milwaukee in this season series than the matchups as Indiana has won seven of nine matchups.

And it was more of the same Sunday.

Tyrese Haliburton scored 24 points, his second straight playoff career high, Andrew Nembhard finished with 15 points and nine rebounds and Pascal Siakam added 13 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.

“We knew coming into the game we were going to have to trap more and do things we don't traditionally do,” Bucks coach Doc Rivers said. “I thought we hung in there, I really did.”

They just couldn't even the series. Brook Lopez led the Bucks with 27 points and nine rebounds, and Khris Middleton added 25 points, 10 rebounds and five assists despite playing with a sprained right ankle and four fouls for much of the second half.

Part of the problem was depth, which could prove tricky again Tuesday night.

Middleton hurt his left ankle during the second half, backup guard Pat Connaughton injured his ribs and starting forward Bobby Portis Jr. was ejected with 5:01 left in the first quarter after he and Andrew Nembhard were involved in a shoving match. Portis drew two technical fouls on the play, part of a six-technical first half.

“It was a tough break for us, there's no doubt about it,” Rivers said when asked about Portis' early departure. “Playoff games are high emotion, they really are and so that happened. You can't get it back once it happened.”

Still, the Pacers struggled to take advantage, finishing the back-and-forth first half with just a 67-64 lead.

But after Lopez opened the third quarter with a basket, Haliburton responded with three straight 3-pointers to give the Pacers a 76-66 lead. The Bucks never completely recovered as Indiana extended the margin to 95-78 on Obi Toppin's layup with 2:24 left in the quarter.

Milwaukee finally started cutting into the deficit late in the third quarter and opened the fourth with seven straight points to make it 98-92.

Indiana answered with a 10-2 run to rebuild a 108-94 cushion with 7:25 to play and Turner helped put it away with a couple of late 3-pointers before both teams put their starters on the bench.

“I didn't realize when I hit the 3 they were chanting my name. I saw it afterward," Turner said. “But it was very special, knowing how much this city means to me and with my family here, it was very special.”