The Milwaukee Bucks took home Game 1 of their first-round matchup against the Indiana Pacers and the star of the night was none other than Damian Lillard. Sinking six three-pointers en route to a 35-point outing, Lillard scored all of his points during the first half of the game. This drew praise from Bucks head coach Doc Rivers, who spoke about how Lillard's aggressiveness opened up the game for the Bucks.

“He carried us, he was unbelievable,” Rivers said, per Bally Sports Wisconsin. “I thought he just played under control. Very aggressive, which is the way we wanted him…The other thing — the biggest difference I thought was that he started the game going downhill and then the game came out. Like he started the game attacking the basket. That's what we talked about. Get to the basket, get to the paint, and then the floor will open up and I thought that's where the threes led after the attack. So, it was really good.”

“He's got that prizefighter mentality,” Rivers added later on in the interview.

Because of Lillard's scoring outburst, Milwaukee led by as much as 30 points during the 109-94 victory. Rivers even described the guard as a “gunslinger.”

“You know the rule, never foul a gunslinger,” Rivers said, addressing a question about a possession where Lillard was fouled.

Damian Lillard and the Bucks take Game 1

Milwaukee Bucks guard Damian Lillard (0) looks on in the second quarter against the Indiana Pacers during game one of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Fiserv Forum
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The Pacers led during the first four minutes of the game, and it would be the only taste of the lead they'd get. Milwaukee took control the rest of the way, as Lillard finished the first quarter alone with 19 points. The Bucks outscored the Pacers 69-42 in the first half, with other players such as Khris Middleton and Bobby Portis contributing in the absence of Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Middleton finished the game with 23 points and 10 rebounds while Portis also added a double-double himself (15 points, 11 boards). Antetokounmpo was ruled out because of a calf injury sustained nearly two weeks ago.

Going back to the game, Indiana cut the lead down to 12 by the end of the third. Milwaukee would respond, however, as a balanced team effort in the fourth gave the Bucks a 1-0 series advantage as the final buzzer sounded.

The Bucks also received help from their bench players, something that Rivers touched on as well.

“Our bench was huge tonight. Khris, Jae Crowder, Malik (Beasley), Pat Connaughton, they all gave us something. AJ (Green) missed shots but he did a lot of good things defensively. So there was not a guy that I put in that I wasn't happy with,” Rivers added.

Moving forward

Looking at the schedule, the Bucks have homecourt advantage, being the higher seed. They'll play the next game at home while Games 3 and 4 will be in Indiana. If the series somehow becomes a seven-game war, then the Bucks will have the Fiserv Forum crowd behind them in Games 5 and 7.

Assuming Milwaukee advances to the next round, they'll be facing either the hot-streaking New York Knicks or the Joel Embiid-led Philadelphia 76ers. In other words, the playoffs won't be easy and the Bucks are surely wishing that Giannis Antetokounmpo would return as soon as possible.

Regardless, if Damian Lillard keeps up the red-hot shooting, then good things will continue to happen moving forward.