'A lot of emotional intensity': Fans fired up as Bucks, Pacers renew league's newest rivalry

NOW: ’A lot of emotional intensity’: Fans fired up as Bucks, Pacers renew league’s newest rivalry

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Less than three weeks after a dispute over a game ball sent the Milwaukee Bucks' biggest star sprinting toward the Indiana Pacers' locker room, the two teams renewed hostilities Monday night as Fiserv Forum.

Ahead of the contest, some fans made clear their distain for the Pacers.

"Right now, [my distain] might be a 12 [on a 1-10 scale]." Todd Schmiers, a Bucks fan from South Milwaukee, said. "After the last couple games, real chippy games, real physical games, real competitive games."

Schmiers said while the Bucks have had recent playoff feuds with the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat, he felt there was something different about the simmering rivalry with Indiana because it featured two Midwestern teams.

"It's in the same region, so it's close enough that it makes it personal a little bit more," Schmiers said.

Following the December 13 contest, in which Antetokounmpo set a franchise record with 64 points, video showed a Bucks assistant securing a ball after the final buzzer.

Antetokounmpo said he was hoping to get the game ball for teammate Damian Lillard, who moved into fifth-place on the NBA's all-time list for most three-point shots made.

Antetokounmpo said he wanted the ball for Lillard, and he believe the ball he got after the game wasn't the actual game ball.

"I have a ball, but I don't know if it's the game ball," told reporters after the game. "It doesn't feel like the game ball to me. It feels like a brand-new ball."

Pacers Coach Rick Carlisle said the team did take a ball for rookie Oscar Tshiebwe, who scored his first career point. That answer still didn't fly with Bucks fans Monday.

"A rookie's first point? I mean, it's nice, but still, it's not worth the 64 points Giannis put up that game," Israel Benitez, a fan from Waukesha, said. "It's a franchise record."

Lillard said the December 13 game featured plenty of feistiness.

"I know that it was a physical game. It was a lot of back-and-forth, a lot of stuff was happening out there," he said. It was a lot of talk in the last game and this game."

The bad blood between the two Central Division teams even appealed to NBA fans who don't have any Milwaukee connections.

Abeku Pearson lives in St. Louis and said while he doesn't have a favorite team, he said Antetokounmpo is his favorite player. That, combined with the postgame antics in the teams' previous meeting, was inspiration for his decision to ring in the new year in Milwaukee.

"No roots, just after the last Pacers and Bucks game, there was a lot of emotional intensity," Pearson said. "And I kind of just wanted to see it first-hand."

Among youngsters, the feelings were a bit split. Some felt there was perhaps a valuable lesson in this whole ordeal.

"You can't always get what you want, and sometimes you just have to share with others," Garrett Mottert, a 12-year-old from Wentzville, MO, whose family traveled to Milwaukee for the game.

Mottert's twin brother, Clayton, said the boys have been played organized basketball for about six years. Their favorite team is the Bucks, largely because of Antetokounmpo.

"We like the NBA a lot," he said. "And ever since I heard Giannis' story, I've really liked him and the Bucks."

Clayton added he believed the Pacers' pettiness would help fuel the 'Greek Freak' in the New Year's Day rematch.

"I think that he's gonna have a really good night tonight," he said. "I think he's gonna go off."

Antetokounmpo did have a really good night Monday, notching a triple-double with 30 points, 18 rebounds and 11 assists.

However, it wasn't enough for the Bucks as Indiana rallied to outscore the Bucks by 13 in the 4th quarter en route to a 122-113 win.

The Pacers have won three of the teams' first four matchups this season. They'll play again Wednesday in Indianapolis.

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