MILWAUKEE -- The Milwaukee Bucks will bring a season-high four-game winning streak to BMO Harris Bradley Center on Friday night when they take on the Indiana Pacers.
Milwaukee is playing some of its best basketball of the season despite losing one of its top young stars in Jabari Parker to a season-ending ACL injury and Michael Beasley, a key reserve, to a hyperextended left knee.
Victories in eight of their past 11 games have put the Bucks in a virtual tie with Miami for ninth place in the East, a half-game behind Chicago and a game back of Detroit.
The secret to Milwaukee's recent success is pretty simple, center Greg Monroe said.
"Defensively, we've found how we should play," Monroe said Wednesday after scoring 12 of his 17 in the second half of a 104-93 victory over the New York Knicks. "Offensively, we have to keep the ball moving. When the ball is moving, we have a good game. When it sticks, when we take quick shots, it doesn't go as well."
While the Bucks have been short-handed without Parker and Beasley, they have gotten a boost from the return of Khris Middleton, who missed the first 50 games with a torn hamstring.
He has appeared in 11 games since returning, averaging 14 points on 50.5 percent shooting and 1.4 3-pointers per game.
"Having him back allows everybody to play their role and play good basketball, team basketball," Giannis Antetokounmpo said. "Whenever we don't play good basketball, he's a leader, he's always talking to us: 'You have to do this, you have to do that.' It just helps a lot because Khris is back."
The Pacers come to Milwaukee looking to build some momentum of their own after trading wins and losses for the last two weeks.
Their next four games come against teams chasing them in the playoff race.
"This is the stride that we really need to blossom," Paul George told the Indianapolis Star after a 115-98 victory over the Pistons on Wednesday. "We really need to start trending upward, and it's not going to get any easier. We're still playing playoff teams, so we've got to look at it as a fun battle."
Both teams were able to rest some of their key players Wednesday night. Milwaukee won while Middleton sat much of the fourth quarter, and George sat out the entire fourth as Indiana cruised to the victory.
"It's great getting back to those old days of being here," George said. "I remember many times early on in my career sitting in the fourth. It was good to get that. We haven't had many of those this season, so it was great for us. We'll definitely appreciate it come the Milwaukee game (Friday)."
The Bucks took the first two meetings of the season, winning by an average of 17 points.