Bucks’ Damian Lillard issues blunt warning for Pacers ahead of playoffs battle

Damian Lillard believes that the Bucks have more to learn in their break as they prepare for their playoff matchup against the Knicks.

The NBA playoffs matchups are set! In the Eastern Conference, we have a pretty interesting matchup between two teams. The third-seeded Milwaukee Bucks will be facing off against the sixth seeded Indiana Pacers. The two teams have some history against each other: who could forget the great game ball fiasco from this season? This matchup is bound to spark some fireworks.

Damian Lillard, Damian Priest facing off.

What’s also worth noting is that the Bucks have not fared well against the Pacers this season. In the five games they’ve played this year, Milwaukee only won one game. However, there’s a stark difference between those Milwaukee teams and the current team: the head coach. Damian Lillard talked about that difference between those two teams and why he believes this team will be better.

“We’ve just been through a lot since then,” Lillard argued. “We’ve had some down moments and we’ve come back from those moments. Then we get a new coach [Doc Rivers] and then we have a different way about us, different style of play. Just so many different things we’ve learned about ourselves from going through stuff.”

The Bucks underwent a massive change this season. They initially hired Adrian Griffin as their head coach, but a dispute within the locker eventually led to Griffin getting the boot. In response, the team hired veteran head coach Doc Rivers to lead the team.

What makes this change significant for the Bucks’ upcoming series against the Pacers? Well, all five of their games in the regular season happened before January 29, the day when Rivers was hired to be the head coach. Because of that, there’s some hope that the team might fare better in the postseason.

Bucks’ struggles under Rivers

Indiana Pacers forward Bruce Brown (11) and Milwaukee Bucks guard Damian Lillard (0) fight for the ball in the second half at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Unfortunately for the Bucks, they’re not playing that well during the entire Rivers era. They lost eight of their last 11 games, ultimately losing out on the second seed to the New York Knicks. Towards the end of the year, they had a chance to keep the second seed. However, losing their last two games, including a blowout at the hands of the Orlando Magic, eventually did them in.

As for the Pacers, one of the few consistent things from their season has been their dominance over the Bucks. They’ve consistently found a way to neutralize Giannis Antetokounmpo while limiting Lillard and Middleton’s ability to contribute. Based on how poorly the Bucks have played under new management, it’s hard to be optimistic about this team’s chances in the first round. They’re looking more and more like the favorites to be the upset of the year.

That being said, the Bucks could be fueled this season by their sheer disdain for the Pacers. If you recall, there was this whole mess this year about Antetokounmpo taking the game ball after scoring a career-high 63 points against the team. Meanwhile, Indiana wanted to give the ball to their rookie who scored his first NBA points. What followed was one of the most ridiculous beefs in the history of the sport.

Can the Bucks find what they’ve been doing wrong all season long and finally break through against the Pacers. They have at least four games to do just that.

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