Bucks vs. Pacers prediction, odds, schedule for 2024 NBA Playoffs first round series


While seeds of rivalries are planted during the regular season, they only blossom if teams meet in the postseason.

The budding rivalry between the Bucks and Pacers is set to blossom into full bloom when the NBA Playoffs get underway.

The Bucks stumbled to the finish line this season but finished with the East’s No. 3 seed, setting up a first-round date with the No. 6 Pacers. The two teams will meet in a seven-game series after an intense five-game series during the regular season.

Standing at the forefront of it all are the stars. Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo’s status is uncertain due to a calf injury, but he was at the center of a game-ball controversy between Milwaukee and Indiana during the regular season. There’s also the battle between All-Star guards, as Indiana’s Tyrese Haliburton gave his spin on Damian Lillard’s watch celebration during the Pacers’ Play-In Tournament win over the Bucks.

In the four months since the teams last met, the Pacers have added another star in Pascal Siakam while the Bucks have made a coaching change to place Doc Rivers at the helm.

Concerning momentum, Milwaukee dropped eight of its last 11 games to close the season while Indiana won six of its last eight to stay out of the Play-In Tournament. How will that impact the series?

Here is everything you need to know about this year’s 3-vs-6 matchup in the East.

MORE: Complete standings, bracket for 2024 NBA Playoffs

Bucks vs. Pacers prediction

Prediction: Bucks in seven

This all hinges on the availability of Antetokounmpo.

Milwaukee appears to be very vulnerable but there’s something to be said about its playoff experience and the chip on its shoulder after struggling against Indiana in the regular season. If Antetokounmpo is ready to go when the series opens, the Bucks could get it done in six games. The series will extend if he is at all hobbled to start.

Lillard is a new addition to a core of Antetokounmpo, Brook Lopez and Khris Middleton, a trio that won an NBA title together. Yes, there’s a new head coach on the sideline, but that continuity counts for something against a Pacers’ core of Haliburton, Siakam and Myles Turner that has not played in the postseason together.

Indiana’s home court, energy and the coaching of Rick Carlisle will be enough to get a few wins in the series, but Milwaukee’s experience will ultimately be the difference.

MORE: How much time will Giannis Antetokounmpo miss with calf injury?

Bucks vs. Pacers odds

The Bucks (-250) open as the favorite to win the series over the Pacers (+200), per NBA odds courtesy of BetMGM

Bucks vs. Pacers regular season series

The Bucks and Pacers met five times during the 2023-24 regular season. (The divisional foes had an additional meeting in the semifinals of the In-Season Tournament.) Indiana won the season series 4-1.

  • Nov. 9, 2023: Pacers 126, Bucks 124
  • Dec. 7, 2023: Pacers 128, Bucks 119 (In-Season Tournament Semifinals)
  • Dec. 13, 2023: Bucks 140, Pacers 126
  • Jan. 1, 2024: Pacers 122, Bucks 113
  • Jan. 3, 2024: Pacers 142, Bucks 130

All five meetings between the Pacers and Bucks came before Rivers was appointed as Milwaukee’s head coach and Indiana acquired Siakam. The Bucks roster is largely the same but the team is fundamentally different with a new coach at the helm.

It’s important to note the high scores and thrilling nature of the above meetings. Adding Siakam to the mix will change the nature of some of these games but the feel should largely be the same.

Bucks vs Pacers key storyline: How impactful can Giannis Antetokounmpo be in the series?

26. 30. 37. 54. 64.

Those aren’t lottery numbers — those are Antetokounmpo’s scoring totals in his five games against the Pacers during the 2023-24 regular season. Milwaukee went 1-4 but its superstar torched Indiana to the tune of these averages: 42.2 points, 13.0 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game.

Few teams have an answer for Antetokounmpo, but during the regular season, it was evident that the Pacers surely didn’t.

On April 9, however, Antetokounmpo went down with a calf injury that typically has a recovery timetable of one to two weeks. Because of the tricky nature of calf injuries, Antetokounmpo’s status to open the series within that recovery timetable is uncertain.

If Antetokounmpo is 80 percent healthy, is he capable of dominating a Pacers team that now features Siakam?

In 2021, Antetokounmpo evaded a serious knee injury to turn in one of the greatest performances In NBA Finals history. Last year, a troublesome back injury was too much to overcome as Antetokounmpo and the Bucks were upset by the 8-seed Heat in the opening round.

This time around is much different but history shows that Antetokounmpo will be at full go if there is no risk of further injury. The only question that remains is if that will be enough.

Bucks vs. Pacers schedule

Date Game Time (ET) TV channel
Sunday, April 21 Game 1 at Bucks TBA TBA
TBA Game 2 at Bucks TBA TBA
TBA Game 3 at Pacers TBA TBA
TBA Game 4 at Pacers TBA TBA
TBA Game 5 at Bucks* TBA TBA
TBA Game 6 at Pacers* TBA TBA
TBA Game 7 at Bucks* TBA TBA

*If necessary

Fans in the U.S. can watch the NBA Playoffs on Sling TV. Sling is the home for avid sports fans offering a range of sports channels so you can always cheer for your favorite teams with channels like ESPN, TBS, TNT, NFL Network, FS1 and more.


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