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Giannis Antetokounmpo Is Expected To Miss The Start Of The Bucks-Pacers Series

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The Milwaukee Bucks slid to the 3-seed in the Eastern Conference with their loss to the Orlando Magic in the final day of the regular season, setting up a first round series with the Indiana Pacers.

It’s a fascinating matchup considering the Pacers went 4-1 against the Bucks during the regular season, but all five of those meetings (with the extra being courtesy of the In-Season Tournament) came in the first half of the season. The teams look a bit different now, as the Pacers now have Pascal Siakam on board and the Bucks are coached by Doc Rivers, but the Pacers had success speeding up Milwaukee and lit them up on the offensive end in each meeting. That figures to be the game plan for the first round, and the Bucks are going to have to figure out how to slow down Indiana’s offense without their superstar, at least for the start of the series.

Giannis Antetokounmpo suffered a calf strain against the Celtics a week ago, and according to Adrian Wojnarowski he is not expected back when they tip-off their first round series on Sunday.

In an ideal world for the Bucks, they would win the first two at home without Giannis and give themselves a chance to let him further heal and rest. However, the Pacers had their number early in the year and have been playing well of late, and if they swipe homecourt in those first two games, Giannis could look to push back on the court sooner rather than later. Without Antetokounmpo, the offensive burden shifts to Damian Lillard and Khris Middleton, who will need to carry the creative load with Giannis out. They’re certainly capable, but Milwaukee is a much more vulnerable team without their two-time MVP and the Pacers should see this as an opportunity to gain a leg up early in the series.