With three impressive wins during this homestand, the Milwaukee Bucks have showed that their run over the last two months isn't a fluke.
The surging Bucks try for their sixth straight win as they look to sweep the regular-season series against the Indiana Pacers for the first time in 28 years Sunday afternoon.
Milwaukee (35-29) has won 11 of 12 and is 17-4 since late January, but after primarily defeating sub-.500 teams early during that stretch, it's beaten Cleveland, Boston and Utah in its last three games.
The Bucks haven't reached the playoffs since 2006, but they sit in fifth place in the Eastern Conference and seem to be gaining momentum.
"We're having a great stretch," coach Scott Skiles said following the 95-87 win over the Jazz on Friday. "I don't mean to be underplaying it at all, but at the same time we're 35-29. We're not 55 and something. We're battling for a spot. The guys were talking about it now, that we've got a game on Sunday and we need to get that one as well. It's not something I need to bring up that much."
While the Bucks, who have won six in a row at home, have been especially helped by the their trade with Chicago for John Salmons -- averaging 19.3 points since arriving in Milwaukee -- what has been most notable about their current streak is their defense.
The Bucks are allowing 83.4 points per game over the last five and they've been especially efficient defending against the 3-pointer. Utah was 0 for 10 from beyond the arc and Milwaukee's last five opponents are a combined 16 for 62 (25.8 percent).
"It definitely feels good to win games," said Salmons, who led Milwaukee with 24 points Friday. "I think everybody on the team was contributing and that's what we need. We need everybody to play well, particularly on defense, and that's how you win games, by getting stops. I think our confidence has grown, but we still got to take it one game at a time."
After facing three of the NBA's best teams, the Bucks will close the homestand against the struggling Pacers.
Indiana (21-44) has lost five of six, falling 122-103 at Boston on Friday. The Pacers have given up 100 or more points in nine of their last 12 and are allowing an average of 111.0 in their last nine. They allowed the Celtics to shoot 58.4 percent.
Roy Hibbert scored 23 points and Troy Murphy had 17 points and 10 rebounds for Indiana, which never got closer than 16 in the second half and was short-handed after T.J. Ford left with 7:33 remaining in the first quarter due to a sore left groin. He did not return and it's uncertain whether he'll be available to play Sunday.
"They came out and pounded us and we never recovered from that," coach Jim O'Brien said.
The loss was the Pacers' seventh straight on the road. They've allowed 120 or more points in four of their last six away from home.
The Bucks are 3-0 against the Pacers and are looking to sweep the season series for the first time since 1981-82, when they won six meetings.