The Milwaukee Bucks took care of business again Wednesday night, beating the Detroit Pistons 120-99. This wasn’t exactly the same blowout that came on Sunday, but nevertheless a win is a win and the Bucks only need to win two of the last four games of the series to advance to the second round. Milwaukee still has a lot of work to do before they can look ahead.
This contest showed how playoff adjustments can make a difference game to game. Detroit found a way to slow down the Bucks for most of the first half and were shutting down some of the major contributors while finding success on the offensive end as well.
The two teams found production in total opposite ways. The Piston’s high scorer, Luke Kennard, had 19 and nine players scored at least five points for a balanced scoring distribution. Milwaukee, on the other end, only found consistent production from four guys: Giannis, Khris, Eric, and Pat. They were the only Bucks in double-digits for the game with each scoring at least 18. Detroit coach Dwayne Casey and his staff are a big part of this. Their updated scheme limited all of Milwaukee’s players in the first half and only allowed those who were ready for the challenge to break through in the second.
Bledsoe led the way with 27 points, Giannis right behind at 26, and Khris had 24 for the Bucks. But the real story was the impact Pat Connaughton had off the bench. Coach Bud chose to only go four deep again for nearly the whole game and Pat earned his bench-leading 31 minutes. He finished with 18/9/3/4 blocks and provided the offensive movement as well as the lockdown defense on streaking guards when Milwaukee needed it most.
Connaughton’s performance was a perfect example of what makes the Bucks dangerous going forward. Stat lines like these aren’t uncommon for guys like Pat, George Hill, and even Ersan Ilyasova. As long as one of them can muster up the power to play like a starter, the Bucks will have a much easier time making up for the Brogdon injury.
On Detroit’s end, it was a valiant effort. They had double the energy that Milwaukee had in the first half and the scoreboard showed it at the break. Kennard was a problem the same way he was in game one and Reggie Jackson found some success. The one glaring issue that the Piston’s cannot overcome is the apparent liability that Andre Drummond has come to be. In his 38 minutes in game two, he ended with a -32 which brings him to -77 through two games. It doesn’t matter what your game plan is, if your best player on the floor can’t be successful while in the game then you’re not going to win. Plain and simple.
Of course, I have to mention what Giannis did to Thon. Between a poster dunk that came from total bully ball and a swat of a finger roll into the fifth row, Thon can’t be feeling to good about himself when he sees Giannis nearby. Once best friends as teammates, Giannis and Thon seemed to have started a bit of a rivalry in this series. Thon is nowhere near the player Giannis is, but in the future he will develop and get bigger to become a better fit to guard Giannis. That could make for a good four-game series every regular season.
The Bucks took care of business in the first two games at home, but will have to take on a different crowd for the next two in Detroit. The next matchup will take place Saturday followed by game four on Monday.