A stagnant start sank the Indiana Pacers in Game 1 of their first-round playoffs matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Pacers (0-1) couldn’t overcome a 27-point first-half deficit in a 109-94 loss to the Bucks (1-0) on Sunday at Fiserv Forum. The Bucks will host the Pacers on Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. ET for Game 2 before the seven-game series shifts to Indianapolis on Thursday.

All-Star point guard Damian Lillard scored all of his team-high 35 points in the first half and Khris Middleton chipped in 23 in the Bucks’ win. Two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is recovering from a calf injury, didn’t play for the Bucks on Sunday.

Pascal Siakam led the Pacers with a career playoff-best 36 points (15-for-25 shooting) and 14 rebounds, while Myles Turner scored 17 points and T.J. McConnell added 10 off the bench for the Blue & Gold. Pacers point guard Tyrese Haliburton logged nine points, eight assists and seven rebounds.

If you include the 2023-2024 regular season, the Pacers’ 94 points on Sunday is the fewest by the team in a game this season, and just the second time they scored less than 100 in a game.

“They won Game 1. We’ve got to move on,” Siakam said postgame. “We’ve got to go back and learn from it, watch film, adjust, and come back and lay it all out on the floor. At the end of the day, no matter what the score was, it’s still one game.”

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Overall, the Pacers shot 39.6 percent from the field, going 8-for-39 from 3-point range (20.5 percent), while the Bucks made 47.1 percent of their shots (14-for-37 from three).

After trailing 69-42 at halftime, the Pacers outscored the Bucks 29-14 in the third quarter to narrow the deficit to 12 points heading into the final frame. The Bucks then opened the fourth quarter on a 16-6 scoring run to go back up by more than 20, coasting to the win from there.

Lillard went nuclear in the first half, scoring 35 points on 11-for-19 shooting to give the Bucks a 69-42 lead. Siakam had 19 points to top the Pacers at intermission, as Indiana shot 35.6 percent in the first 24 minutes.

Lillard had 19 points on 6-for-11 shooting (3-for-5 from 3-point range) in the first quarter to help the Bucks to a 30-21 lead.

In the first nine minutes of the game, Lillard scored 16 of his team’s first 20 points, propelling the Bucks to a 20-15 advantage.

McConnell then hit a fadeaway shot from close range to regain the Blue & Gold’s momentum. With about two minutes left in the frame, Haliburton drained back-to-back baskets to make it a one-point game.

In the final 66 seconds, however, the Bucks strung together a 10-2 run as Malik Beasley drilled the first 3-pointer, Pat Connaughton converted a four-point play, and Lillard hit a step-back three from 28 feet at the buzzer to put the Bucks up nine.

The Bucks shot 65 percent in the second quarter for 39 points, extending their lead to as many as 30 points before the break.

The Bucks carried their offensive momentum into the second quarter, as two Middleton free throws, four straight baskets by Bobby Portis, and a layup from Jae Crowder helped the Bucks take a 42-23 lead with 7:37 left in the first half.

A free throw by Turner and a pair of baskets by Siakam momentarily stopped the Pacers’ bleeding, but a 14-1 Bucks run, where Lillard added 10 more points, propped the Bucks up 58-29 with 3:02 on the clock.

While Turner, Andrew Nembhard, and Haliburton each drained 3-pointers in the final minutes, the Bucks answered each basket to stay up by 27 points at intermission.

In the third quarter, the Pacers limited the Bucks to 33.3 percent to make it a 12-point game. Siakam scored eight points in the third quarter, and Turner scored seven.

Indiana regained its form out of halftime, opening the third quarter on a 12-4 run to make it 71-51 before a 13-2 run spurred by the bench unit, punctuated by a 3-pointer from rookie Ben Sheppard, cut it to 83-69 with 2:15 on the clock.

With two seconds left in the third frame, McConnell hit a pull-up jumper from close range to narrow the score to 12 points.

In the fourth quarter, the Bucks pounced early, and the Pacers failed to make it a single-digit game.

Two threes from Beasley and one trey each from Middleton and Crowder helped the Bucks to a 14-6 run three minutes into the fourth quarter, pushing the Bucks ahead 97-77.

Indiana never made it a game from there, and will look to get one back in 48 hours.

“They looked like an experienced team and we looked inexperienced,” Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle said. “That led to a lot of problem. Playoffs, you can talk about how different it is, but actually experiencing it is another thing. This is a great building – they have great fans. They understood what this game meant, so give them credit with how they played in the first half. But we were very poor. Obviously, we’ve got to be way, way better.”

Inside the Numbers

After dropping 35 points in the first half, Lillard went 0-for-5 shooting in the second half.

The Pacers outscored the Bucks 52-40 in the second half.

Indiana had 12 turnovers to Milwaukee’s 10 giveaways.

On the boards, the Pacers outrebounded the Bucks 50-47. They also outscored the Bucks 40-34 in the paint.

There was one lead change and three ties in the game.

At the free throw line, the Pacers finished 14-for-21 and the Bucks went 13-for-13.

Indiana is 0-2 when scoring fewer than 100 points this season.

You Can Quote Me On That

“The first half was embarrassing. No excuses. We simply have to come out better. It was ugly and we all own it.” – Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle on the first half

“They looked like an experienced team and we looked inexperienced. That led to a

“He’s a great player. We had some confusion, some mixups. He’s an experienced playoff sniper and he did what he does. Thirty-five in one half is a great effort by him, but we’re going to have to be much better.” – Carlisle on Lillard

“Pascal is a great player. That’s why we traded for him. We’ve just got to make sure that we’re doing the things that our team needs to do to create a balance as well as we can. All year, we’ve been a team that relies on anywhere from five to eight guys in double figures. Granted, the playoffs are different … but we needed his scoring desperately tonight because we were having trouble getting anything else going. Being better defensively, having a stronger posture and stronger presence is part of us having the balance offensively.” – Carlisle on Siakam and the loss

“From a player’s perspective, I think we got jumped into the playoffs. We have a young group that really hasn’t experienced this level. A lot of this is on our leaders – the guys who have been here before. When you’re in the playoffs on the road, you have to come out with a certain intensity, a certain attention to detail. It lacked a little bit in that first half. I’m still very confident with our group.” – Myles Turner on the loss

“… I think we realized that when we actually do lock in to detail, we can make this a game and make this a series. It’s our job to go out there next game and prove just that.” – Turner on the second half and looking ahead

“I’ve just got to be better. And I will on Tuesday.”- Tyrese Haliburton on only taking seven shots

“I feel like we got a lot of good looks, they just didn’t fall. I’m confident that they’ll fall Tuesday.”  – Haliburton on the loss

“The guy was making some crazy shots. He’s a hell of a player. But yeah, there’s some stuff that we can do better and I thought we did do it better in the second half. We’ve just got to keep building off that. Understand there’s another big game on Tuesday that we’ve got to be ready for. He’s a great player, made a lot of crazy shots but that’s what we does. That’s what he’s known for, been doing in this league for a long time.” -Haliburton on Lillard

“They made shots early. I thought we just didn’t have the intensity that we were supposed to have. They made some tough shots. On offense, we weren’t us in terms of staying composed – doing what we do. That’s on us. Kudos to them, they came out at home and had a really good first half, and we didn’t. That’s that. We’ll move on from it and learn from it. I thought in the second half we played a lot better in terms of playing aggressive and doing what we know we can do“ – Pascal Siakam on the first half

“I don’t know if I would say jitters. We didn’t make some great decisions, and they had runs. When a team like that has runs, we have to be able to … stay composed and fight back. I thought in the first half they kind of just did whatever they wanted. I think they came out and sent a message like they were supposed to. It’s on us now to respond.” – Siakam on Game 1

“We’ve got to play with a little more effort and be a little more physical right out of the gate. We can’t let a player of that caliber … get going like that. We fixed it in the second half. We just gotta start better.” – Aaron Nesmith on Lillard and the loss

“It’s on us. We’ve got to play our game and our pace. That’s something we dictate and something we will do.” – Nesmith on the ball movement

“We did good stuff in the second half offensively and defensively. We’ll look at it and take what we did well and hopefully execute it for 48 minutes.“ – Nesmith on taking positives from the second half

Stat of the Night

Indiana missed its first 13 3-point attempts in the game before finishing with just eight made threes. The Pacers, the highest-scoring team in the NBA, averaged 13.2 made 3-pointers per game during the regular season.


The Pacers haven’t won a playoff game since 2018. Indiana has not won a playoff series since the 2013-14 season.

This is the third time the Pacers and Bucks have met in the postseason. Indiana won both series during the 1998-1999 and 1999-2000 seasons.

Up Next

The Pacers and Bucks will meet again in Milwaukee for Game 2 on Tuesday, April 23 at 8:30 PM ET.


The Pacers will host the Bucks in Game 3 on Friday, April 26 at 5:30 PM ET, the first playoff game at Gainbridge Fieldhouse since 2019.