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After trading blowouts in Games 1 and 2 of their first-round series, the Milwaukee Bucks and Indiana Pacers delivered an instant classic on Friday evening. It was a good thing Game 3 started at 5:30 p.m. local time, as it took three hours for the Pacers to secure a thrilling 121-118 win in overtime. 

The Pacers jumped out to a 17-point lead at the end of the first quarter, which also included a frightening moment for the Bucks when Damian Lillard limped to the locker room with an apparent knee injury. Neither he nor his team was willing to give up, however, and the Bucks began chipping away at the Pacers' lead once he returned to the floor in the second quarter. 

By the opening minutes of the fourth, Lillard had put the Bucks in front for the first time, and from there, the two teams traded blows the rest of the way. Here's a look at the five craziest moments from one of the best games of the playoffs so far:

5. Pacers keep the ball for nearly two minutes, but don't score

The Pacers' offensive rebounding was a key factor in their win. They were relentless on the glass, pulling down 19 offensive rebounds that turned into 32 second chance points. Ironically, their best sequence in that category did not result in any points. 

With 3:23 remaining in overtime, Brook Lopez missed a floater that kept the game at 113-113. The Bucks would not touch the ball again until 1:38 to play. That was because the Pacers recovered their own miss five times in a row during a stunning stretch of action. 

  • First, Aaron Nesmith missed an open 3-pointer that Bobby Portis tipped out of bounds. 
  • On the ensuing try, Tyrese Haliburton bricked a 3 of his own, but Nesmith tipped the ball out to Andrew Nembhard
  • Then it was Pascal Siakam's turn. His jumper came up short as well, but Nembhard snuck in between two Bucks to grab the board. 
  • Haliburton took the Pacers' fourth shot, but it was never going in. Once again, though, Nembhard managed to come up with the ball in traffic. 
  • After Nembhard drew a foul on Khris Middleton, the Pacers got the ball back to Haliburton, but he missed yet another try from downtown. This time, it was Nesmith who chased after the ball in the corner and kept it alive. 
  • Surprisingly, Haliburton found himself wide open at the top of the key in the ensuing scramble. He could have brought the house down with a make, but it was not to be. 

When the Bucks got a leak out on the final miss to take the lead, it seemed certain that the Pacers would look back on that period with great regret. 

4. Nesmith thought he won it

Nesmith had a rough shooting night (3-of-13), but he came up clutch on multiple occasions down the stretch. First, at the end of regulation, he made two pressurized free throws to give the Pacers a three-point lead. Then, as time wound down in overtime, he hit the biggest shot of his career to date. 

With the game tied at 115-115 and the shot clock winding down, Siakam whipped a pass out to Nesmith in the corner. While he was wide open, he had to make a tough catch and get the shot off before the buzzer, with the Bucks' bench screaming in his ear. He was unfazed and drained the triple to put the Pacers up by three with 14.4 seconds left. 

3. Middleton Mania Part I

Khris Middleton has had his fair share of clutch moments for the Bucks over the years, including a game-tying shot from the hashmark with 0.5 seconds left in the 2018 playoffs against the Boston Celtics. Late in regulation on Friday, he pulled off a repeat from nearly the exact same spot. 

The Bucks appeared to be stuck, but Middleton took a hand-off from Lopez, worked his way around multiple defenders and got just enough space for a leaning heave that somehow went in and kept the Bucks alive. 

2. Middleton Mania Part II

If Middleton's shot to force overtime wasn't crazy enough, he nearly forced another extra frame with an even more ridiculous shot. After Nesmith's 3-pointer in the corner, the Bucks called timeout and drew up a play for Middleton to come off a screen from Brook Lopez and catch the ball at the top of the key. 

It worked, but Myles Turner recovered well and forced Middleton to put some extra arc on his attempt. Middleton's altered effort was indeed going way long, but he was perfectly positioned at the top of the key and so it hit the backboard and dropped through the net to tie the game. 

1. Haliburton's game-winner

Haliburton has not always looked like himself since coming back from his hamstring injury earlier this season, but he did on the Pacers' final play of the game. 

Perhaps the only downside of Middleton's banked-in 3 to tie the game from the Bucks' perspective is that he made it with 6.7 seconds remaining, which gave the Pacers a lot of time to respond. Rick Carlisle took advantage by drawing up a play to get Haliburton the ball in the backcourt, which allowed his point guard to build up a head of steam towards the basket. 

Hailburton sped downhill, crossed over Patrick Beverley and converted a tough and-one floater to win the game.