Damian Lillard’s 35-point first half carries Bucks to Game 1 win

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MILWAUKEE — Because the clock ticked towards the top of the primary quarter, Bucks level guard Damian Lillard put an exclamation level on his Recreation 1 masterpiece.

With a crossover, he created area and stepped again for a 28-foot 3-pointer, an outdated transfer from Lillard, who knocked down a shot previous the outstretched hand of Pacers guard TJ McConnell as the primary quarter buzzer sounded . After this, Lillard proceeded in direction of the court docket, having fun with the applause of the gang current at Fisher Discussion board.

“What time is it?” the general public deal with announcer requested.

“Dame Time!” The gang began roaring.

“That is what you all introduced me right here for,” Lillard shouted to the gang, beating his chest.

With two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo sidelined with a calf pressure, Lillard led the Bucks to a 109-94 win over the Pacers in Recreation 1 of their first-round playoff collection on Sunday. Lillard completed with 35 factors within the first half, serving to Milwaukee construct a halftime cushion that was by no means threatened.

“Within the playoffs, it's about setting the tone,” Lillard stated. “We're going to see this staff a number of instances, and also you wish to set up your self, particularly on your property area. That was my mentality, to return out and try to create an environment like that.”

Recreation 2 is Tuesday evening in Milwaukee.

Based on analysis by ESPN Stats & Data, Lillard's 35 factors within the first half have been the second-most by any participant within the first half of an NBA playoff recreation prior to now 25 years, trailing solely Kevin Durant's 38 factors in 2019. Lillard set a playoff profession excessive for factors in a half and scored extra factors within the first half than any Bucks participant since Antetokounmpo within the 2021 NBA Finals.

“He pushed us,” Bucks coach Doc Rivers stated. “That was unimaginable.”

Even with Lillard going scoreless within the second half, whereas the Pacers took the ball out of his palms, his teammates have been capable of decide up the slack. Khris Middleton scored 23 factors on 9-of-14 taking pictures, whereas Bobby Portis added 15 factors and 11 rebounds.

But it surely was Lillard's aggressive method that helped the Bucks advance.

“I've seen it loads on tv,” Middleton stated. “He got here out, hit the primary punch and actually acquired us off to an excellent begin with an excellent lead that lasted the entire recreation.”

Lillard practically equaled Indiana (42 factors) within the first half, because the Pacers, who ranked second within the NBA in offensive effectivity through the common season, struggled to generate factors of their first playoff recreation. He missed his first 12 3-pointers, and his 42 factors have been the fewest of any half this season.

It was the primary time Indiana shot beneath 40% in a recreation this season.

Pascal Siakam scored 36 factors, however Tyrese Haliburton was restricted to 9 factors and 9 assists whereas his teammates completed 9 of 26 from his passes.

“Everybody was energetic, following the sport plan,” Rivers stated.

This was the tenth consecutive postseason loss for the Pacers, because the 2017–18 season.

“It's simple to say we missed pictures and now we're nervous or one thing,” Haliburton stated. “It doesn't matter who y'all are going to run with. I simply really feel like on the finish of the day we missed pictures. The ball wasn't bouncing. And so they made pictures within the first half and that sort of damage our “Dug a gap.”

Pacers coach Rick Carlisle was extra concise.

“The primary half was embarrassing,” he stated. “No excuses. We simply have to return out higher. It was ugly, and all of us personal it.”

Milwaukee took a 1-0 lead within the collection with out Antetokounmpo, who has not performed since April 9 when he strained his left calf. Rivers stated earlier than Recreation 1 that he had no readability about when Antetokounmpo could be able to play once more.

So the Bucks wanted this sort of efficiency from Lillard, who was traded to Milwaukee from the Portland Path Blazers every week earlier than the beginning of coaching camp. His first season in Milwaukee was stuffed with ups and downs, adjusting to a brand new staff and taking part in with one other celebrity for the primary time in his profession. Lillard averaged 24.3 factors on 42% taking pictures (35.4% from 3) in 73 video games through the common season, a down yr by his lofty requirements.

However after getting by means of the common season, Lillard stated he felt the thrill of coming into his first playoffs with Milwaukee this week and getting an opportunity to compete for his first championship.

“Lacking the playoffs the final two years hurts,” Lillard stated. “Early holidays. Final yr, I went to Coachella. I've by no means been capable of go to Coachella.

“Over such a protracted summer season, I used to be over it. To have the ability to get right into a playoff collection on a championship staff, championship group, understanding we've acquired a possibility for it, that was the factor I used to be wanting ahead to probably the most. Had been.”

Data from the Related Press was used on this report.

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