NBA

Pacers cap off busy week by hosting Bucks

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana Pacers will host the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. It's been a busy week for Indiana, as they'll be playing their fourth game in the last six nights. The Pacers (29-24) have dropped two straight games after previously winning seven straight. They fell to Cleveland on Wednesday, and dropped a 112-107 contest to the Wizards in Washington on Friday night. Despite the consecutive losses, the Pacers are still 14-6 in their last 20 games after starting the year 15-18. They're in the midst of a tough stretch of games that will also see them playing the Spurs next week, followed by two more games with the Cavs and Wizards.

Against Washington, the Pacers gave up 14 offensive rebounds, which was a huge factor in the end result. "We're not tough enough," Paul George told the Indianapolis Star. "This has been an issue for us all season long. We're really struggling."

The Pacers were without Thaddeus Young who is still recovering from his wrist injury. Young is also expected to miss Saturday's game.

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Indiana is just 3-7 this season on the second night of a back-to-back, but they've also won two straight in those circumstances.

The Bucks are also playing for the second time in two nights. They hosted the Lakers on Friday and lost by a final score of 122-114. Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 40 points, but it wasn't enough to lead them to victory.

"Our spirit has been down, for whatever reason," Bucks Coach Jason Kidd said. "Coming into the game, I thought we were in a better place. We have to be better from the beginning of games. We have to fight. It's not going to be easy. We're giving up a lot of points. We have to lose the concept that we're an offensive team."

The reason team spirit is probably down is because they recently suffered a huge injury, losing Jabari Parker for the season with a torn ACL. Parker was averaging over 20 points per game.

"We've got to rally with one another," Coach Jason Kidd told NBA.com. "We need the next guy up mentality. It's got to be a team effort for us to get out of this funk."

The Bucks defeated the Pacers back in November 125-107 in their only meeting so far this season. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Parker each had 27 points in that victory. Defeating the Pacers again, however, will be a tall task without Parker, and considering the Pacers are 20-7 on their home floor.

Khris Middleton will not travel to Indianapolis. He's played in two games since returning from a torn hamstring that he suffered in training camp.

Both teams are in the top eight of the NBA in blocked shots per game, and 3-point shooting percentage.

This is the second of four match-ups between these two teams this year. Last season, the Pacers won three of the four match-ups over Milwaukee.