Pacers vs Bucks Prediction: Game 1 Odds, Pick

Pacers vs Bucks Prediction: Game 1 Odds, Pick article feature image

Pictured: Tyrese Haliburton of the Pacers and Damian Lillard of the Bucks for Action Network’s odds, picks, and predictions for Game 1 of the NBA Playoffs.

Pacers vs. Bucks Prediction: Game 1 Odds

Sunday, April 21
7 pm
Pacers Odds
-112 / -108
Bucks Odds
-112 / -108
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

Here's everything you need to know about Pacers vs. Bucks on Sunday, April 21 — our expert prediction and betting picks for today's game.

Despite not playing particularly well toward the end of the campaign, the Milwaukee Bucks still had a chance to lock up the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference with a win over Orlando in the season finale.

Instead, Milwaukee lost 113-88, dropped to No. 3 in the conference, and will face Indiana in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.

With just three wins in their last 11 games, the Bucks might feel like they're facing an uphill challenge against any team in the association. That task will undoubtedly get even more challenging against a Pacers team that won four of the five head-to-head meetings.

It certainly won't help that the Bucks will be without their best player, Giannis Antetokounmpo, who has officially been ruled out due to a calf injury as of 1 p.m. ET. Antetokounmpo averaged 42.2 points against the Pacers, more than twice as many as the Bucks' second-leading scorer, Damian Lillard (20.3).

Thus, Milwaukee could be heavily disadvantaged without the one player who seemed to have an edge in the matchup against Indiana. Let's get to our Pacers vs. Bucks Game 1 pick and prediction.

Indiana Pacers

Basketball in the NBA can be elementary and complex all at the same time. On the surface, it often looks like the team with the five best athletes on the court will prevail, but the game is much more nuanced than that.

The evolution of data and analytics has become almost weaponized around the league, and the Pacers are certainly one team that falls into that category.

Indiana has a distinct style of play in that it wants the game to be at a breakneck speed, ranking second in possessions (105.2), according to TeamRankings.

In the series against the Bucks, both teams combined to average 254 points per game, roughly 19 points higher than the average in Milwaukee's games throughout the season.

Per, Indiana led the league in early field goals (9.4) and attempts (17.9) with 15-18 seconds left on the shot clock, placing their opponents under constant threat and rarely giving them a chance to catch their collective breath.

Another interesting stat is that the Pacers averaged the fewest seconds per touch (2.75). This means the ball often moves as they shift their opponents from one sideline to another.

The Pacers certainly have the personnel for this style of play, and Bucks' freelance writer Louis Zatzman notes that Indiana ranked third in distance traveled per game while Milwaukee was 24th. 

Zatzman added that opposing defenses ranked fifth in distance travelled when facing the Pacers.

ESPN Bet is now live! Make sure you're ready for all the action with our exclusive ESPN BET promo code TANBONUS.

Milwaukee Bucks

I can't say I've written too many articles (if any) that focused on possessions, seconds per touch or distance traveled. 

However, those topics are highly relevant when breaking down this series. While conceding that a team has an edge over their opponent is one thing, it's another to understand why.

Possessions and pace of play help tell a story about which team is influencing the game, and the underlying data gives the Pacers a distinct edge.

After a 114-105 victory over the 76ers on March 14, Bucks' head coach Doc Rivers had an interesting choice of words when he spoke to reporters. 

"I want the mud," Rivers said. 

In translation, Rivers wants his team to play a much slower, grind-it-out style of basketball.

But what Rivers wants and what Rivers gets are two completely different things. The Bucks are still a top-10 team in pace, averaging 103.6 possessions on the year.

While I won't dismiss the Bucks' ability to slow the Pacers down, that assignment gets even tougher without Antetokounmpo on the floor.

If the Bucks want to take the air out of the ball, they could always turn to Antetokounmpo to attack the paint and possibly draw a foul with the shot clock winding down. 

After all, Antetokounmpo has the highest effective field goal percentage (.624) of any player, averaging 18.75 or more field goal attempts.

The Bucks will likely struggle to replicate Antetokounmpo's ability to drive and attack the paint.

If we turn to Lillard, he shot 49% of his field goal attempts from behind the perimeter and went 9-for-34 (26.4%) in four games against the Pacers.

It's worth noting that the Pacers place a strong emphasis on guarding the perimeter. They led the league with the fewest 3-point field goals allowed, with 10.6 per game.

Pacers vs. Bucks

Betting Pick & Prediction

While Antetokounmpo's status helps explain why the Pacers are now favorites after opening as 3.5-point underdogs, our in-depth look provides some of the nuts and bolts of why this can be a difficult matchup for the Bucks, especially without their star player.

Line movement that involve a lower seed also tends to be a favorable spot in Game 1 of a first-round series.

According to our Action Labs database, lower seeds in this spot that are bet up to a favorite are 5-1 against the spread while covering the last four games.

After shopping around, DraftKings is still offering the Pacers at -1, and at that price, it makes sense to bypass the point spread altogether and play them on the moneyline at -115.

Phone With the Action App Open
The must-have app for NBA bettors
The best NBA betting scoreboard
Free picks from proven pros
Live win probabilities for your bets

How would you rate this article?

This site contains commercial content. We may be compensated for the links provided on this page. The content on this page is for informational purposes only. Action Network makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the information given or the outcome of any game or event.

Sportsbook Promos
See All
Legal Online Sports Betting

BetMGM Bonus Code Fetches $1.6K Match or $1.5K Insurance Bet for Pacers-Celtics, Any Tuesday Event

Sean Treppedi
May 21, 2024 UTC