NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, December 18th (All times Eastern)
Indiana Pacers (13-11) at Milwaukee Bucks (12-10), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Two Central Division foes will tangle on Tuesday night when the Indiana Pacers put their three-game winning streak on the line against the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Pacers have climbed into a virtual second-place tie in the Central with Milwaukee after home wins over the Cleveland Cavaliers and Philadelphia 76ers and a road victory Saturday over the Detroit Pistons.
Indiana is a half game behind the Chicago Bulls for first in the division as the Bulls host the Boston Celtics on Tuesday. It's pretty remarkable considering the team has been without its best player, Danny Granger, and center Roy Hibbert is having a down season.
Against the Pistons, the Pacers pulled away in the fourth quarter and came out with an 88-77 victory. David West continues to lead the way in Granger's absence. On Saturday, West had 23 points and George Hill added 18.
"We are starting to feel good about what we are doing here," said West. "The guys have been able to adjust on the slide but we knew it was going to be a tough game. We knew they had a tough game last night. It felt like we were able to make the plays down the stretch to get the separation."
The Pacers, who have won 10 of 15, lead the NBA in opponents' field-goal percentage and are third in points allowed. During this winning streak, the Pacers have held the other team to an average of 81 ppg.
The Bucks are playing good ball as well. They had a four-game winning streak halted Saturday night at home against the scorching hot Los Angeles Clippers.
The Bucks fell 111-85 to the Clips on an off night shooting for Milwaukee. The Bucks shot 36.1 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from 3-point range. Only three Milwaukee players scored in double-figures, led by 16 from Marquis Daniels.
"That's a very talented team. If you're going to compete with them, you need a superior effort and we had an inferior effort," said head coach Scott Skiles. "We got caught ball-watching. Just in general, not a very competitive effort."
Defensively, things didn't go well against the Clippers. Milwaukee surrendered 66 points in the paint and only scored 28 of their own. That was both a season-low for the Bucks and a season-high they allowed.
The Clippers shot 53.7 percent from the field and 45.5 percent from beyond the arc.
The Bucks should get some help on the scoring front as Mike Dunleavy is listed as probable against the Pacers. He's been out since Nov. 30 with a bruised left knee.
Milwaukee defeated the Pacers, 99-85 at home on Nov. 14. The Bucks ended a five-game losing skid to Indiana, thanks in part to a combined 41 points and 17 assists from guards Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis and Beno Udrih.
12/18 10:49:20 ET