Pacers to face the Milwaukee Bucks in Las Vegas, Hall of Famer Reggie Miller on the call
Both the Pacers and Bucks are 5-0 in the in-season tournament. They will meet for the second time this season on Thursday. And Pacers legend Reggie Miller will be the game analyst.
LAS VEGAS — The Pacers’ semifinal matchup at the NBA’s inaugural In-Season Tournament is now set. They will square off against the Milwaukee Bucks in a final four battle with another $100,000 bonus on the line for each player. And the chance to reach the finals of the new NBA Cup.
Both teams are 5-0 in tournament play.
The tipoff will be at 5:13 p.m. ET on Thursday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. It will be the Pacers’ second consecutive game on national TV and their first this season on ESPN.
The Bucks (15-6) defeated the New York Knicks at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee Tuesday evening 146-122 to secure their spot in Las Vegas.
Giannis Antetokounmpo nearly recorded a triple-double in the win (35-8-10) and newcomer Damian Lillard contributed 28 points and seven assists. The Bucks shot 60% from the field as they pulled away from the Knicks in the second half (+21).
And so, Antetokounmpo will celebrate his 29th birthday on Wednesday by flying to Vegas. In a postgame interview, he did not sound thrilled to have to be away from his family.
The Pacers (11-8) had the more favorable schedule playing one day earlier. So while the Bucks were going through morning shootaround, the Pacers were already en route to Las Vegas and settled in by Tuesday afternoon.
In addition to being a travel day across the country, the Pacers got some work in at the Las Vegas Aces’ $40 million practice facility that opened earlier this year. It could not have have been difficult for the Pacers to gain access to the facility since assistant coach Jenny Boucek is close friends with Aces head coach Becky Hammon, and former Pacers assistant Tyler Marsh is on her staff.
They just won the WNBA Championship for the second consecutive season.
The Pacers and Bucks have already played once this season, back on Nov. 9. With offseason acquisition Lillard sitting out on the second night of a back-to-back, Antetokounmpo was nearly unstoppable. He finished with 54 points, one shy of his career high.
But the Pacers narrowly held on for a rare win over the Bucks, 126-124. (The Pacers had lost 11 of their last 12 games to Giannis' team.)
Antetokounmpo attempted almost as many free throws (16 for 18) as the entire Pacers roster, which went 18 for 20. Bucks coach Adrian Griffin received a double-tech and thus was ejected from the game with 7:52 to play in the third quarter.
After a 5-4 start, the Bucks have now won 10 of their last 12 games.
This matchup is extra special for Pacers star Tyrese Haliburton, who is from Oshkosh, Wisconsin. And last year, he was unavailable for all four games against his hometown team. He’s coming off a signature performance, recording his first-career triple-double, in a win over the Boston Celtics.
His parents will be there.
“We’ve wanted to be in this situation all year and here we are,” Haliburton said after Monday’s win. “It’s not just about being here, it’s about winning.”
📺 Reggie Miller On the Call
Listen up, Pacers fans. Hall of Famer Reggie Miller will be on the broadcast Thursday despite it being televised by ESPN.
ESPN and TNT will be collaborating on game and studio coverage for the remainder of the tournament in Las Vegas. So it will be Mike Breen, Doris Burke and Lisa Salters of ESPN teaming up with Miller, a TNT analyst who is trading places with Doc Rivers.
“People typically wait for the next big event, which is Christmas Day,” David Roberts, ESPN’s Head of Event & Studio Production, said on a conference call. “But what's happened is you have this major event following Opening Week and the curiosity factor. But more importantly, the buy-in from the players has resulted in an outstanding product on the court which leads to higher ratings and also a greater interest from the fans, who can see future stars and future franchises like Indiana emerge during this process.”
As someone who works in sports media, I can tell you the sharing of talent across competitors is rare.
Because it is an exclusive ESPN telecast, Bally Sports Indiana is unable to show the game for the first time this season
Miller posted the following photo with Haliburton last February at All-Star Weekend in Salt Lake City.
The last time Miller attended a Pacers game, he was there for personal reasons — to celebrate longtime PR director David Benner's retirement on April 3, 2022. Unfortunately, Benner passed away less than a year later and Miller returned to Gainbridge Fieldhouse to honor his life.
Miller served as the TNT analyst for Suns at Lakers on Tuesday night.
“How was that atmosphere with my beloved Pacers last night?” he said to play-by-play announcer Ian Eagle in the first quarter of the broadcast. “Oh my goodness. What a game versus Boston in Indiana. Outstanding.”
The in-season tournament championship will be played on Saturday, Dec. 9 at 8:40 p.m. ET and air on ABC.
🐜 Pacers Rookies Join Mad Ants For Another Game
First-round picks Jarace Walker and Ben Sheppard were not aboard the team’s Delta charter flight to Las Vegas Tuesday.
They were both assigned to the team’s G League team, the Indiana Mad Ants, to get more valuable game reps — this time in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. And they plan to rejoin the Pacers in Las Vegas before their semifinal game.
Walker had an efficient night, finishing with 29 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists and three blocks in 34 minutes. He made 10-of-13 shots, including all five 3-pointers.
Sheppard added 17 points and three assists.
Two-way forward Kendall Brown scored a game-high 30 points — which is significant.
Oscar Tshiebwe returned to the Mad Ants and piled up 19 points and 14 rebounds.
Veteran guard Elfrid Payton is back after injury and was in the starting lineup.
It was all in a dominating 142-105 win over the Skyforce, now seven in a row for the Mad Ants.