Only three first-round series in the NBA Playoffs find themselves tied at 1-1 heading into huge Game 3 battles. The Milwaukee Bucks and Indiana Pacers are responsible for one of these series after the Pacers stunned the Bucks on their home floor in a 125-108 Game 2 victory. Now, these two teams will meet on Friday in a game where one side will seize all the momentum of the series, but the Bucks and Pacers will be tipping off at a very unorthodox time of 5:30 p.m. ET.

If you are on the West Coast, you will get to see a great basketball game between two rivals during your lunch break. With this said, why would the NBA make this nationally televised game that many viewers around the country will want to tune in for at a time when mostly everyone is still working or driving back from their occupation?

Well, there is really no clear answer to this, but it appears as if this is more of a scheduling conflict with ESPN than the league office deciding when this game would begin.

ESPN and Turner Sports (TNT) have exclusive rights to air the NBA Playoffs. Turner Sports' coverage of the playoffs also carries over to NBA TV on some nights. The conundrum between the two networks is that they will never overlap their coverage on the same days other than on the weekends. This Friday was determined to be the day that ESPN would hold their weekday showings of the NBA Playoffs, but they are also hosting the 2024 NFL Draft on ABC, meaning they can only air games on ESPN.

With three games needing to be played and the two Western Conference games between the Los Angeles Clippers and Dallas Mavericks, as well as the Minnesota Timberwolves and Phoenix Suns, occupying the 8:00 p.m. ET and 10:30 p.m. ET slots, ESPN was left with little to no choice other than to air the game earlier or surrender their coverage, something that they likely did not want to do.

As a result, the Pacers and Bucks will kick off their days earlier than usual and take the court for what will be another epic duel between the two sides.

Pacers, Bucks meet for critical Game 3

Milwaukee Bucks guard Damian Lillard (0) and Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton (0) battle for a rebound in the in the second quarter during game one of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Fiserv Forum.
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The Pacers and Bucks have played a total of seven games against one another this season, including playoff and in-season tournament games. Indiana has gone 5-2 against Milwaukee. More importantly for the Pacers, they have not lost on their home floor to the Bucks all year.

Breaking home-court advantage in this first-round matchup against the Bucks may wind up paying off in a few games for the Pacers, especially if they can hold serve and take a 2-1 advantage with a victory in Game 3.

After scoring just 94 points in Game 1, their lowest scoring output of the season, the Pacers rallied behind Pascal Siakam's game-high 37 points to pull off a 17-point Game 2 victory in Milwaukee. Siakam has been red-hot to start this series, scoring 36 and 37 points in back-to-back games while also recording a double-double in each of them.

Indiana can really put a lot of pressure on the Bucks with a victory in Game 3 on Friday evening. Their task at hand may be a lot easier too, with Giannis Antetokounmpo's status for this first-round series in doubt, as well as Khris Middleton dealing with an ankle injury.

A total of 578 series in the NBA Playoffs have held a status of 2-1 at some point. Teams that take a 2-1 lead have gone on to win the entire series 79.9 percent of the time, according to Land of Basketball. Either the Bucks or Pacers will greatly increase their chances of advancing with a win on Friday.