Both the Bucks and Pacers will be playing for the second night in a row on Thursday in Indianapolis and with tired legs, both teams among the best offensive clubs in the NBA and both struggling on defense, it may well be one of the highest-scoring games of the season. The opening total is a monstrous over/under 243 and still rising. Expect a very motivated Giannis Antetokounmpo to take the floor after a rare ejection Wednesday in a near-loss to Detroit. The Greek Freak is -265 to record a double-double, which I will be playing.
The Bucks were up double digits on an extremely short-handed Pistons team in the third quarter Wednesday when Antetokounmpo was ejected after being assessed a second technical foul. It happened at the nine-minute mark when he threw down a dunk over Detroit’s Isaiah Stewart. Antetokounmpo is not known to taunt opponents, but he did stare down quietly at Stewart afterward, which led to a tech from official Scott Twardoski.
Giannis was so stunned that he briefly sat down in a courtside seat alongside fans, followed Twardoski looking for an explanation and then finally went to the locker room. Antetokounmpo didn’t speak to the media afterwards, which is rare for him (he probably wanted to avoid a fine for ripping the refs). The two-time MVP earned his first tech with 3:47 to go in the second quarter (reportedly for profanity towards an official), and that one he probably deserved.
Antetokounmpo had 15 points on 6-of-16 shooting and a team-leading nine rebounds in 22 minutes when he was ejected. Milwaukee nearly collapsed without him, trailing by 10 points midway through the fourth quarter and three with 1:39 left, but managed to pull out a 120-118 win.
“He made like a little face and he took off running and he didn’t say a word,” said teammate Jae Crowder about the second technical foul. “I think that’s why he was so frustrated, like ‘You really threw me out and I didn’t say anything?'”
It was Antetokounmpo’s fourth career regular-season ejection. Here are the others and what he did in the next game:
- John. 28, 2016 vs. Memphis: Had 28 points, six assists and four rebounds, but wasn’t near the player then he is now.
- April 1, 2018 at Denver: Had 29 points, 11 rebounds and six assists next time out.
- August 11, 2020 vs. Washington in the Orlando bubble: Had 31 points, 17 rebounds and seven assists (next game was in the playoffs).
The SportsLine Projection Model projects Antetokounmpo for 28.5 points, 10.1 rebounds and 5.3 assists on Thursday. He is +1600 to record his first triple-double of the season. Khris Middleton got Wednesday off for rest in the front end of the back-to-back but is expected to play Thursday.
Indiana is really fun to watch. The Pacers play at a breakneck pace and lead the NBA by far in scoring, averaging 126.0 points per game. They have scored 152 points (franchise record) and 134 points in home wins this week over San Antonio and Utah. The Pacers aren’t listing anyone as potentially out yet, but teams that played the night before don’t have to release injury reports this early.
Milwaukee was 3-1 vs. Indiana last season and every game had at least 251 points scored — and the Bucks were a good defensive team then. The Pacers have lost five straight at home in the series.
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