The Pacers Outlasted The Bucks In An Instant Classic To Win Game 3

Despite blowing a 19-point lead, getting hit with haymaker after haymaker by Khris Middleton, and a less-than-stellar shooting night from behind the three-point line, the Indiana Pacers have a 2-1 lead in their series against the Milwaukee Bucks. In what will go down as one of the best games this postseason, the Pacers picked up a thrilling, 121-118 win in overtime.

The crowd in Indiana was revved up from the very start, and the team responded to the energy that filled the building. The Pacers looked primed to run the Bucks out of the gym in the first quarter, as the team’s speed and ruthlessness on the offensive end of the floor saw them lead by as many as 19 points and gave them a 17-point lead after one.

The second quarter didn’t follow the same script. Thanks to 21 combined points from Middleton and Brook Lopez — the former had 11 of his 19 first half points in the frame, the latter had all 10 of his in the second — Milwaukee was able to slow things down just enough to make things more respectable going into the half.

Sill, Indiana took a 67-55 lead into the locker room with the 1-2 punch of Myles Turner (15 points) and Obi Toppin (14 points) leading the way. Additionally, Tyrese Haliburton went for eight points, 11 assists, and five rebounds in the opening 24 minutes, as he consistently got his teammates good looks against the Bucks defense — as a team, the Pacers shot 27-for-53 (50.9 percent) from the field and 9-for-24 (37.5 percent) from three, while the Bucks were 19-for-45 (42.2 percent) and 2-for-13 (15.4 percent) respectively. If not for the fact that Milwaukee made nine more free throws on 10 more attempts, it’s easy to see how Indiana could have gone into the locker room with a considerably larger lead.

Slowly but surely, the Bucks were able to chip away in the second half. In the third quarter, they were able to get the deficit down to single-digits, with Middleton continuing to be steady and Damian Lillard scoring nine points in the frame to get the lead down to 90-83 heading into the fourth.

And then, to start the fourth, the Bucks went on a 10-2 run to take the lead after back-to-back triples from Lillard.

As the game went down the stretch, neither squad was able to pull away by landing the haymaker that sent the opposing team to the mat. But with 19.8 seconds left, the Pacers were able to land a major punch. The team led by one and had the ball, and while Haliburton bricked an attempt from three, Pascal Siakam reeled in the rebound, went up, made a layup, and got fouled as Lillard attempted to draw a charge.

Siakam missed the free throw, however, which cracked the door open. Middleton made a layup on the ensuing possession, with the Bucks opting to play the foul game instead of looking for a three. And while Aaron Nesmith knocked down both of his attempts from the charity stripe, Middleton came right back down and nailed a three with 1.4 seconds left.

While Siakam got a look on the final possession, his effort hit the back of the rim, which sent things into overtime. Things continued to be tight over the extra period, and with 14.4 seconds left, Nesmith came up huge again, as he beat the shot clock to put Indiana up three by drilling a triple in the corner.

But somehow, someway, Middleton did it once again. The Pacers ended up losing Middleton, who walked into a three at the top of the key and banked it in.

Indiana responded by going to Haliburton, but instead of trying to get him a three, he got the ball in the backcourt and picked up a head of steam, which he used to cook Patrick Beverley, get into the paint, and throw up a floater, which he made while getting fouled.

Middleton ended up getting a contested look with 1.6 seconds remaining, but it fell short. It was the only negative moment in an otherwise sterling night for Middleton, who had 42 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists, while Lillard pitched in 28 points and eight dimes. For the Pacers, Turner’s 29 points and nine boards led the way, and Haliburton went for an 18-point, 16-assist, 10-rebound triple-double.

Game 4 between the Bucks and the Pacers will take place on Sunday evening at 7 p.m. EST on TNT.