Giannis Antetokounmpo Goes for 54, But Bucks Can’t Keep Up With Indiana’s Record-Setting Pace
The talk of Thursday night’s social media feeds was Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 54-point performance in Indiana. He eclipsed 40 points midway through the 3rd quarter. As impressive as it was — the highest-scoring game of the year through three weeks of NBA action — it wasn’t enough to keep up with Indy’s frenetic speed. The Pacers beat the Bucks (126-124) thanks to a late 3 from Tyrese Haliburton (29 pts, 6 rebs, 10 asts), and Indiana is now 6-3 while riding a record start to the 2023-24 season.
Wrong Side of History: Antetokounmpo is the first player in NBA history to have 50+ points, 10+ rebounds, shoot 75% or better, and be on the losing end of a game. (ESPN Stats & Info)
Editor’s Note: In five years of writing The Sportsletter, I don’t think the Pacers have earned the focus in our NBA coverage more than once or twice. This is their second time grabbing the spotlight in the past week. And for good reason. I’m a little biased (I used to work in the building), but not enough to praise the squad if they don’t deserve it. Here’s proof…
Zoom Call: The Racing Pacers
Through nine contests, Indiana is averaging 126.0 points per game — the exact number they hit to win on Thursday. For reference, the highest-scoring (team) season of all-time belongs to the 1981-82 Nuggets at 126.5 points per game. Indiana’s 126.0 ppg would be second-best all-time if the season ended today.
Assist This: Pacer Passing
The Pacers’ run-n-gun style is leading to an excess of fast-break opportunities, and that means more assists. Fast-break points usually result in quicker buckets off of a teammate’s pass, as opposed to a half-court offense where someone goes 1-on-1. Indiana’s 30.7 assists per game would rank 3rd all-time behind only two Lakers squads from the ’80s (31.4 apg & 31.2 apg).
Indy’s fast-break engine is Tyrese Haliburton (11.6 apg, 1st in the NBA). Maybe it’s too early. Maybe they’ll get exposed. Or maybe, the Pacers have the perfect nickname for the fastest team ever.
Other NBA Highlights
Trae Young Scores 41, Dejounte Murray Hits Go-Ahead 3 to Win in Mexico City
Photo: Dylan Buell / Getty Images