That’s all for round one. The Milwaukee Bucks took care of business in Detroit, defeating the Pistons in game four 127-104. The Bucks needed only the minimum to get through eight-seed Detroit and can now look forward to a much more even matchup with the Celtics. Game four in Detroit was the most competitive game of the series, despite what the finally score shows.
From the tip until about four minutes left in the third quarter, the Pistons had a real chance to take one game away from this series. Blake had fought through his soreness to be effective in the paint and Reggie Jackson was hitting every shot he took in the first half. But that was the issue for Detroit. It was a tale of two halves when they needed to repeat the performance from the first.
The Pistons held a 62-56 lead at half over the Bucks. Reggie Jackson led all players with 20 points on 7-14 shooting and forced the Bucks into 11 turnovers while also out-rebounding and out-assisting Milwaukee. Their offense was fluent and Andre Drummond was finally a productive option. However, in the midst of first half success, a lot of fouls accumulated that ended up being a real issue in the second half.
Blake Griffin fouled out while Drummond, Bruce Brown, and Thon Maker had five fouls each. Many of these fouls occurred in the third quarter when the Pistons defense seemed to just get out-worked by Giannis, who had the first 40-point game of this year’s postseason. Not only were the Detroit bigs getting worked by Milwaukee, they got destroyed in the block bottle 10-1. Ultimately, the offense couldn’t capitalize on enough of the stops the defense produced and Detroit lost control of the game.
The Bucks had to work for this one, no doubt. The first 32 minutes were a real battle and the Pistons were up by as much as twelve. They just couldn’t get any separation that gave them security. This happened because of two important factors that the Bucks will rely on the rest of the playoffs. Giannis and suffocating defense.
Giannis finished every and-one and drew every foul he could while seemingly keeping his energy at the same level. It helped that it was his first game over 30 minutes this postseason while Detroit coach Dwayne Casey played six of his guys at least 29 minutes. When the Bucks took their first lead towards the end of the third quarter, it simultaneously ended the night for the Pistons. A game that was tied at 83 with about 15 minutes left ended in a total blowout 127-104.
Giannis led the Bucks like an MVP does with 41/9/3/4 blocks with more highlights than one hand could count. What’s even scarier is that despite scoring 127, no other Buck was even above 20. In fact, Giannis, Bledsoe, Middleton, and Mirotic were the only Bucks in double-digits. That just shows the depth of a team that still has goals in mind.
This was Milwaukee’s first playoff series win since 2001 and their second since 1989. While for the franchise it’s a big series, for this year’s team it’s nothing. Their second round matchup, the Boston Celtics, also swept their series against the Indiana Pacers. Their confidence is as high as it’s been all season. Kyrie Irving is finding his playoff form and Gordon Hayward is starting to look like his old self at the right time. The Bucks won the season series 2-1, but those games won’t be anything like the upcoming seven-game series.
The second round series will likely start this Sunday, but it is still to be determined. Either way, Coach Budenholzer will need to spend the rest of the week making sure his team is ready because the real playoffs start now and anything can happen. If the Finals is the goal, then the Celtics are the next obstacle.
Good night, Detroit.