With both teams coming off tight games Wednesday night, the Milwaukee Bucks will travel to Indiana to take on the Pacers on Friday night in a Central Division battle.
Milwaukee hung on to beat the Denver Nuggets 107-99 on Wednesday as Denver was playing on the second night of a back-to-back and resting many of its key players, including two-time reigning MVP Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr. and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way for the Bucks in his second game back from injury with 33 points and 14 rebounds. Jrue Holiday added 20 points and Pat Connaughton scored 19 points, a season high, while grabbing 12 rebounds.
"You get into a meeting 30 minutes before a game and they say all these guys aren't going to play, you'd think that would make the game easier, but these are the games you have to be more mentally focused for," Connaughton said. "We could have done a better job of that tonight. The turnovers (22) are a direct result of that."
Indiana was on the losing end of a high-scoring battle in Orlando on Wednesday, falling 126-120. The Magic held on after building a 46-29 cushion after the first quarter.
In the loss, Benedict Mathurin led the way with 26 points along with Buddy Hield's 21 points and Myles Turner's 22 points and 13 rebounds. Chris Duarte and T.J. McConnell also scored in double figures with 16 and 17, respectively.
"Lousy first quarter. I thought we were pretty good in the second, third and fourth quarters. We've got to get off to better starts," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. "Our presence defensively wasn't where it needed to be. The second night of a back-to-back is not an excuse."
The injured Tyrese Haliburton leads Indiana with 20.2 points and 1.8 steals per game and leads the entire NBA with 10.2 assists per game. Myles Turner leads the Pacers with 8.0 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game.
For Milwaukee, Antetokounmpo leads with 31.0 points and 12.0 rebounds per game. Holiday leads the Bucks with 7.3 assists and 1.4 steals per game while Brook Lopez leads with 2.5 blocks per game.
Haliburton has not played since Jan. 11, missing eight games. He said Friday that the Pacers would re-evaluate his injury by the end of January and he hopes to return by then. Additionally, Andrew Nembhard is day-to-day for the Pacers and Daniel Theis missed Wednesday's game with a knee injury.
Milwaukee played its first game without Bobby Portis on Wednesday after he suffered a right MCL and right ankle sprain Monday. He will be re-evaluated in two weeks.
MarJon Beauchamp is considered day-to-day for the Bucks with knee soreness while Serge Ibaka remains out as the team looks for a trade partner for him.
The Bucks and Pacers matched up earlier this season. The Bucks won their ninth straight in the series against the Pacers on Jan. 16, winning 132-119 in Milwaukee.
--Field Level Media