Indiana Pacers' Pascal Siakam tries to get past Milwaukee Bucks'...

Indiana Pacers' Pascal Siakam tries to get past Milwaukee Bucks' Brook Lopez during the second half of Game 2 of the first round NBA playoff basketball series Tuesday, April 23, 2024, in Milwaukee.The Pacers won 125-108 to tie the series 1-1. Credit: AP/Morry Gash

MILWAUKEE — As a former champion on a team without much postseason experience, Pascal Siakam understands what it’s going to take for the Indiana Pacers to advance beyond the first round of the playoffs for the first time in a decade.

Siakam’s certainly doing his part.

The former Toronto Raptors forward scored 37 points and the Pacers overcame another fantastic first-half performance from Damian Lillard to beat the Milwaukee Bucks 125-108 on Tuesday night and tie their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series at a game apiece.

Game 3 is Friday in Indianapolis.

“We’ve got to be the hungry team," Siakam said. “We’ve got to be the team that’s coming in and wanting to show something. That’s the attitude that we’ve got to have against those guys, because they’ve done it before.”

The Pacers had plenty of appetite Tuesday as they snapped a 10-game playoff losing streak that began with a Game 7 loss to Cleveland in a 2018 first-round series.

Indiana acquired Siakam in January in part because of his experience as a member of the 2019 Toronto Raptors championship team. He followed up his 36-point performance in Game 1 by shooting 16 of 23 from the floor and finishing with 11 rebounds and six assists on Tuesday.

Milwaukee Bucks' Patrick Beverley looks to pass around Indiana Pacers'...

Milwaukee Bucks' Patrick Beverley looks to pass around Indiana Pacers' Tyrese Haliburton during the first half of Game 2 of the NBA playoff basketball game Tuesday, April 23, 2024, in Milwaukee. Credit: AP/Morry Gash

According to Stats Perform, Siakam is the first NBA player to open a postseason with consecutive 35-point, 10-rebound performances since Wilt Chamberlain in 1967.

“His experience in the playoffs is so valuable,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “He's not a guy that's going to get rattled by anything. Never has once since January, since we got him. He's a guy that people confide in and look up to."

The Pacers needed Siakam to step up because Lillard was once again coming up huge for the Bucks, at least in the first two periods.

Two nights after scoring all 35 of his points in the first half of the Bucks’ 109-94 Game 1 victory, Lillard had 26 by halftime Tuesday and finished with 34.

Milwaukee Bucks' Patrick Beverley rebounds in front of Indiana Pacers'...

Milwaukee Bucks' Patrick Beverley rebounds in front of Indiana Pacers' Aaron Nesmith during the first half of Game 2 of the NBA playoff basketball game Tuesday, April 23, 2024, in Milwaukee. Credit: AP/Morry Gash

It wasn’t enough.

“I think both games we had a lot of success in the first two quarters mainly, and then in the second half we kind of get away from the things we had a lot of success doing,” Lillard said.

Lillard didn’t get enough help with the Bucks once again missing two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo due to a strained left calf. Antetokounmpo hasn’t played since he was hurt in an April 9 victory over the Boston Celtics.

Even after Lillard's big early onslaught, the Bucks still trailed 60-55 at halftime. Indiana stayed ahead throughout the second half.

“We were more consistent, played with more force, played with more attitude,” Carlisle said. “There were some tough stretches in the game. I liked the way we kept our poise and our aggression. We kept attacking.”

The Pacers led the NBA with 123.3 points per game during the regular season but posted their lowest point total and field-goal percentage (.396) while shooting 8 of 38 on 3-pointers in Game 1. This time, Indiana looked more like the team that won four of five regular-season matchups with the Bucks while scoring at least 122 points in each.

“I thought we struggled execution-wise on the offensive end, and I thought that bled over to the defensive end,” Bucks coach Doc Rivers said. “I thought it was more our offense tonight.”

Myles Turner scored 22 points and Andrew Nembhard 20 for the Pacers. Tyrese Haliburton had 12 points and 12 assists.

Milwaukee's Brook Lopez scored 22 points and shot 6 of 7 from 3-point range. Khris Middleton scored 15 points. Bobby Portis had 14 points and 11 rebounds.

The Bucks cut Indiana's lead to one late in the third quarter and got it down to four in the opening minutes of the fourth. The Pacers responded each time and pushed their lead to 23 in the fourth quarter by following Siakam's advice.

“He’s established himself on a our team as a veteran leader, as somewhat of a mentor because he’s been there,” Carlisle said. “He’s constantly saying, ‘Keep your edge. Keep your edge. Keep your edge.’ He’s been through these things too many times.”

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