Posted April 16, 2019 12:33:08When the Milwaukee Bucks return home to play the Indiana Pacers on Sunday, the team will have won five straight games and four of the last five overall.
But it’s not just the team that is in good shape.
On the defensive end, the Bucks are ranked fourth in points allowed per 100 possessions.
They’re also the only team in the league that has allowed opponents to shoot below 50 percent from the field and 40 percent from 3-point range.
This means they are able to keep up with opponents without any help from the offensive line.
The other key stat the Bucks have is turnover percentage.
The Bucks have been good at defending inside, but they’re also giving up the third-highest turnover rate (27.7 percent) in the NBA.
When opponents do get a shot off in the paint, they’re more likely to take advantage of their offensive mismatches.
On offense, the offense has been one of the biggest reasons the Bucks rank among the league leaders in points per possession.
The team is averaging 100.0 points per 100 attempts, which is fifth in the conference.
Milwaukee has been able to create its own shot off of drives, pick-and-rolls and pick-n-roll action.
The Bucks have made their share of offensive stops.
They’ve forced 14 turnovers this season and have given up just 11 points per game.
Their ability to contain opponents on both ends of the floor has been critical to their success.
The biggest reason the Bucks haven’t had the best start to the season is their defense.
The Pacers have been the worst team on the court this season at forcing turnovers, per Synergy Sports.
However, the teams overall rating is still better than the Bucks, who rank ninth.
The defense is where the Bucks could improve this season.
They rank second in points in the Eastern Conference with a 109.8 net rating.
Indiana has been the only top-10 defense in the East, so the Bucks should be able to improve on that.
The Pacers have one of those “one-two punch” players in Paul George and Lance Stephenson.
Both are capable of scoring, but the duo can also help out defensively.
George is averaging 10.4 rebounds per game and Stephenson has 11.4.
George has also been a big reason the Pacers are allowing just 41.7 points per 40 minutes this season, which ranks 12th.
The combination of George and Stephenson should be one of Milwaukee’s biggest strengths this season as the Bucks try to stay in the playoff picture.
Indiana is the best team in front of Milwaukee at home, but it has had some issues getting to the line this season against the Bucks.
In the four games Indiana has played in Milwaukee this season they have allowed a league-low 39.6 points per shot on threes, per NBA.com.
The big problem is that Indiana has struggled on the defensive side of the ball, ranking 24th in points against per possession and allowing an average of 94.2 points per 120 minutes.
The two teams also have some tough matchups on the offensive end of the court.
Indiana ranks second in the West at allowing opponents to make 95.1 percent of their shots in the restricted area.
The biggest weakness in the Pacers defense is their inability to force turnovers on their own court, which has led to the Pacers making just 41 percent of threes in those restricted areas.
They are averaging just 12.3 turnovers per game this season which ranks 25th in the Big Ten.
The lack of turnovers could be the difference between the teams being able to win the game and getting in the playoffs.
The final statistic the Bucks defense has been at the heart of their success is offensive rebounding percentage.
Indiana is allowing opponents on the glass to make just 28.4 percent of the shots they attempt in the lane, which leads the Big 12.
Indiana’s offensive rebounds are also one of their best parts of their defense, per basketball-reference.
The Indiana defense is ranked third in the country in defensive rebounding efficiency and is allowing an offensive rebound every 20.5 minutes this year.
The Indiana defense could be a key to keeping Milwaukee in the postseason.
They can use their defensive rebounds to create open looks for their offense and allow Indiana to score on the boards.
The good news is the Bucks will be without their leading scorer, Andrew Wiggins.
Wiggins has missed five games with an injury and is still battling through back spasms.
If he is unable to play Sunday, he would likely be the primary backup at the point guard position.
The Badgers have been struggling on defense in Indiana this season with a defensive rating of 112.1.
That is a big jump from their 106.4 mark last season.
The defense has given up an average offensive rating of just 12 points per contest.
Indiana needs to improve their rebounding on both sides of the paint to make up for this drop in efficiency.