This series has been lopsided thus far, without question. But this game had the potential to be different. It was the first game played in Detroit and they got their star player back in Blake Griffin. The first few minutes their was a bit of a back and forth, but nothing really changed in the third game of the best of seven series. The Milwaukee Bucks handled the Pistons like the number one seed should, 119-103.
Without getting too deep into the statistics, there’s one glaring comparison that no team could overcome. The Bucks shot 48%/37% while Detroit shot 39%/30%. When you’re playing the number one defense, those numbers aren’t going to fly. That, plus Milwaukee winning the bench scoring battle 42-27 and that’s the end of the game.
Dwayne Casey had his team as ready as he could for this one. They had intensity and were drawing the matchups they wanted early to attack the rim. The only issue was the Pistons only have a Griffin and Andre Drummond to force their way through the defense. The two combined to shoot 15-38 and 39 points which isn’t terrible but the pair also carry the most weight on the offensive end. That kind of efficiency won’t hold in a 48 minute game.
The Bucks showed they have many ways to beat you. Seven players scored in double digits, led by Khris Middleton with 20. Oddly enough, Giannis was the only starter to have a negative +/- at -7 with 14 points on 5-13 and four turnovers. But Nikola Mirotic saved the day by having his first impactful game in months with 12 points on 3-5 from deep. Combine that with 15 from Ilyasova and 11 from Hill and a tough night from Antetokounmpo doesn’t matter against an eight seed.
Fouls were a factor that hurt the Pistons more than the Bucks as well due to the depth on the bench. Drummond and Reggie Jackson accumulated five fouls each and Giannis had five as well. Milwaukee had a much easier time playing team basketball without their best player than the Pistons can function with newly acquired five man Thon Maker. Thon had some good defense on Giannis but had no impact on the offensive end and that’s kind of the story on Detroit. 103 points on the Bucks isn’t going to cut it.
Brook Lopez led the Bucks in minutes with 34 and no other play saw more than 30. This could be important in the near future as the Boston Celtics have also taken a commanding 3-0 lead in their series with the Indiana Pacers and will advance to play Milwaukee with one more win, assuming the Bucks win on Monday. Coach Bud will want his team to avoid shortened rest at any point in the playoffs.
The Bucks will play game four in Detroit Monday night in hopes of advancing out of the first round of the playoffs since the 2000-2001 season.