Central Notes: Bucks, Holiday, Pacers, Mitchell, Allen

Jrue Holiday was a key member of the Bucks team that won a championship in 2021. On Wednesday, he’ll be taking the court against his former club for the first time as a member of the conference-rival Celtics, following a pair of preseason trades that sent him first to Portland and then to Boston.

As Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes, the current Bucks who were part of that 2021 team have faced plenty of former teammates over the years, but readily admit that their first matchup against Holiday won’t just be another game. Khris Middleton referred to it as “more personal,” while Giannis Antetokounmpo said it will be odd to see “one of my brothers” wearing a different jersey.

“He’s such a special person and means so much to me and obviously the team and the city,” Bucks center Brook Lopez said. “It’s definitely not going to be just like playing any other previous teammate. It’s definitely going to be different. … I’ll be excited to see him. … I miss him very much.”

“It’s kind of hard to get out your head, you feel me? It’s our brother,” Bobby Portis said. “When you play ball in the Fiserv Forum and we tip up and you look up at the championship, you can’t help but think about him, you feel me? Obviously it’s weird.”

Let’s round up a few more notes from around the Central…

  • A win over Atlanta on Tuesday night would clinch the Pacers‘ spot atop East Group A in the in-season tournament, securing their spot in the quarterfinals (Twitter link). Tyrese Haliburton and the Pacers are welcoming the opportunity to play in games with bigger stakes than a typical regular season contest, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. “The in-season tournament is probably the first time that I’m really competing to win a championship on the NBA level,” Haliburton said. “I’ve never made the playoffs or anything, so right here it gives me the chance to be able to do that, and that’s exciting for me.” Head coach Rick Carlisle believes making a run in the tournament would benefit his club more than just financially: “Opportunities to be on more meaningful stages is something that’s important for young teams.”
  • Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell will miss a third consecutive game on Tuesday due to a hamstring strain, tweets Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com.
  • In a conversation with Sam Yip of HoopsHype, Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen said that his ankle, which cost him the first five games of the season, feels “great” now, adding that he believes his minutes restriction has been lifted. Allen also discussed the impact of the Cavs’ offseason additions, his efforts to improve his play-making, and the improvements he has seen from his younger teammates.
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