The Milwaukee Bucks reportedly had more than just the game ball on their minds in their now notorious dust-up with the Indiana Pacers after Giannis Antetokounmpo dropped a career-high 64 points against them last month.
“People didn’t see the way Indiana acted that night,” a Bucks team source told ESPN. “You come into our house and take our stuff. Screaming, ‘F-you. F-you.’ Yeah, how’s a guy going to react?”
Antetokounmpo’s wild response looks to have been the culmination of a heated night all around for the Bucks and Pacers. After exchanging words with some Pacers players and staff, the 29-year-old took off for the Indiana locker room in pursuit of the ball used to mark his scoring achievement. Indiana also wanted the game ball to celebrate the first NBA point scored by Oscar Tshiebwe.
Video of the two-time NBA MVP’s frenzy went viral, bringing even more attention to what might be becoming one of the league’s most heated rivalries.
Giannis tried to go into the Pacers locker room after they took the game ball from his 64 piece pic.twitter.com/Z9LnPQihzJ
— Josiah Johnson (@KingJosiah54) December 14, 2023
Antetokounmpo’s big game came on Dec. 13 in a 140-126 Bucks victory. It was less than a week after Indiana eliminated Milwaukee in the semifinals of the first NBA In-Season Tournament on Dec. 7.
After accusations of poor sportsmanship from both sides, the teams are now getting together for two games in three days, first in Milwaukee on Monday and then in Indiana on Wednesday.
The Bucks seem to have used the tournament defeat at the hands of the Pacers as motivation, having lost just once since then. They have won nine of their past 10 games to raise their record to 24-8, which is second in the Eastern Conference behind the Boston Celtics.
The Pacers have gone just 5-6 since losing the In-Season Tournament championship game to the Los Angeles Lakers on Dec. 9. They will take a 17-14 record that has them in seventh place in the conference into the home-and-home set against the Bucks.
Indiana seemed to place an emphasis on the In-Season Tournament, with star Tyrese Haliburton saying it gave him a rare chance to compete for an NBA championship of some sort since he has yet to play for a team that has made the playoffs in his three prior seasons.
With bad blood undoubtedly lingering between the Pacers and Bucks, this week likely will give Haliburton another chance to experience some games with a similar high-level intensity.