Indiana misses a golden opportunity – iPacers

The Indiana Pacers seized a golden opportunity to knock out the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 5, advance to the second round and gain valuable rest time when they were crushed and embarrassed by a team without their two best players, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard.

The Bucks won 115-92 as Patrick Beverley scored 13 points and 12 assists while outplaying several defenders throughout the game. Bobby Portis kept his cool and overwhelmed everyone guarding him with 29 points and 10 rebounds. The Pacers never matched the Bucks' urgency after the first quarter and felt humbled after three straight wins in the series.

It's the first time in NBA history that a team has won a playoff game without its top two scorers, according to ESPN's Malika Andrews, and now Doc Rivers seems optimistic that both could return as soon as Game 6.

“I don't know how to answer that. I hope so,” Doc Rivers said after much hesitation when asked if the Bucks' win tonight might give his two players enough time to return. “They are very, very close.”

If Dame and Giannis come back, the Pacers don't deserve to win this series if they can't win one of the next two games against them anyway. No excuses.

So the stakes are higher and the competition could be tougher for the Pacers to win the toughest game in a playoff series: the closeout game.

Rick Carlisle pushed as many buttons as possible in the second quarter to find a combination that would give the game enough energy and intensity. Isaiah Jackson got his first real playing time since game one. Doug McDermott got a few minutes. But the bench and depth that have been so important to the Pacers all season were simply terrible, continuing the general trend of this series. The Bucks basically only played 7 times in their rotation.

Pacers fans everywhere are watching this

The Pacers were stunned by the Bucks switching everything up, stagnated on offense and struggled to come into the game with consistency. The Bucks controlled the pace like they did in the first game. The Pacers have a lot of film to watch and counterattacks to figure out between now and Thursday.

Player grades: F for everyone

TJ McConnell, who struggled in all series, was just 3 of 10 with just 6 points and 3 assists. He was -18 for the game. Obi Toppin's boxscore doesn't look bad (12/6/4), but his defense was terrible and he committed a technical foul that got under Beverley's skin after Toppin – also -18 – was called for a substitution. He also had several errors on rebounds that he couldn't quite collect and that ultimately gave the Bucks points. The rebounding epitomized the lack of urgency most of the night, as the Bucks were increasingly quick to grab contested rebounds and hold on to them more forcefully.

Pascal Siakam struggled greatly with the increased attention he received and didn't hit the same shots he did in the first two games. His free throw shooting is more than concerning at this point, as he went just 1-for-5 in this game and is down to 46.2% in the series (12-for-26). I didn't fully notice this until before Game 4 during his warmups, but he has an awkward wrist twist that isn't present on his normal jump shot. With the way he shoots them, Hack-a-Pascal could be a thing. He was the only Pacers starter to even reach the free throw line.

Pascal Siakam practices his free throws before Game 4

Tyrese Haliburton, who was struggling with back problems, had 16 points but only 6 assists. He made 4 of 10 3-point shots, but like many others on the team, was not aggressive enough in attacking the basket, making 2 of 4 shots from inside the arc. His defensive performance was stepped up in previous games, but he wasn't able to make many offenses against anyone who tackled him in this game as Malik Beasley got going for the first time in the entire series. Pat Bev hit him short and Pat Connaughton drove right past him.

Andrew Nembhard was invaluable on both sides throughout the series, but Beverley kept driving past him and scoring. Offensively, he contributed 12 points (6 of 12).

The Bucks' move deprived them of a lot of the looks they expected Myles Turner all series. Turner was still very efficient, but only took nine shots, making six. In the first four games he had shot almost as many three-pointers per game (8.5). While he was on the field, the Pacers were still only up by 6 points in the game – underscoring how important he still was to Indiana in this series.

Aaron Nesmith continues to struggle with his shooting in this series and struggled with foul trouble in this game. Khris Middleton continues to overwhelm him as Nesmith simply doesn't have the size to consistently challenge his shot attempts. He did block three shots and got one steal, but was a team-low -22 in that one.

Ben Sheppard made two 3-pointers in the first quarter when it still looked like the Pacers were going to do everything they could, as they did in Game 4, and he was the Pacers' best player off the bench in that game , although that doesn't mean much.

Doug McDermott Hit a wide open 3 against a Bucks zone. I still don't want to see him on the floor. Isaiah Jackson played well and added 4 points and 4 rebounds. Lopez is simply too big to handle, he could perhaps see more success against the Bucks' smaller lineups, but the Pacers would prefer to stick with a smaller rotation. Jarace Walker played a ton of unnecessary minutes and got a rep or two guarding Middleton, including one where the Bucks veteran made a 3. I wish Walker got more reps in the regular season so he would be viewed as better prepared for this moment by the coaching staff.

TNT broadcast: Bonus F – hearing the same fan shout “Tyrese sucks!” and countless other hecklers in the lane were incredibly disgusting throughout the game. What better way to capture the overall mood and energy of the crowd than just hearing one or two fans throughout the game? For anyone who couldn't see Chris Denari and Quinn Buckner, it was just a terrible listen.

Anna Harden

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