8 favorite things from the Bucks' 120-99 win against the Detroit Pistons
"Bucks in 6" is a slogan of the past as the top-seed Milwaukee Bucks are making things look easy against the Detroit Pistons, leading fans to amend the rally cry to a subtracted "Bucks in 4."
After a slow first half, Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks handed Detroit another convincing loss on Wednesday night and took a 2-0 lead in their opening round of the NBA Playoffs. While things may be more difficult when the series continues in the Motor City this weekend, the Bucks will come into the Little Caesars Arena "hot-n-ready" with their minds' set on a series sweep.
Here are our eight favorite things from the Bucks' Game 2 win against the Detroit Pistons:
1. A game of runs
Basketball is a game of runs, and while the Bucks didn't kick off Wednesday's game with a 20-4 run like in Game 1, several impressive runs contributed to Game 2's big win.
After trailing the Pistons by one point going into the third quarter, the Bucks put together two big runs in the second half to contribute to their 21-point victory, including a 12-4 run to end the third quarter and a 16-4 run in the fourth quarter to extend Milwaukee's lead to 111-92 and crush the Pistons' hopes for a comeback.
2. Giannis dominates again
While Pistons' head coach Dwane Casey successfully limited the Greek Freak twice this year, containing Giannis to just 15 points on two separate outings, Giannis delivered another strong performance on Wednesday, building off his big night in Game 1 where he was the first player in NBA playoff history to score over 20 points and grab 16-plus rebounds in under 25 minutes.
With Game 1 in his rearview, Antetokounmpo didn't let his foot off the gas on Wednesday and made 11 field goals on 18 attempts. The Greek Freak was too much for Thon Maker and Andre Drummond to handle, as he put up a double-double with 26 points and 12 rebounds on the night.
3. Three-point shooting
The Bucks fought to a 60-win regular season by averaging over 13 three-point field goals per game (second in the league). Although Milwaukee was dead center in terms of three-point percentage (35.2%), the sheer volume of their long range shots contributed greatly to their top-three offense.
Coach Budenholzer had his team continue this trend on Wednesday as 33 of the team's points came from three-pointers. Of the seven different players with three-point field goals, Eric Bledsoe led the charge with a trio of three-pointers, while the team shot a high percentage as a unit (42.3%).
4. Eric Bledsoe
The Greek Freak wasn't the only Buck to stand out on Wednesday night's stat sheet; in fact, Eric Bledsoe led all scorers with 27 points. Not only did Bledsoe lead the team in scoring, but he did so at a high percentage (shooting 11-19) and also contributed three steals in the game with just a single turnover.
While the Bucks wait for Malcolm Brogdon to return from his injury, Eric Bledsoe will do the heavy lifting at point guard, and Wednesday night was evidence that he is more than qualified for the challenge.
5. A stable bench
With Giannis and Bledsoe leading the way, Milwaukee's bench contributed to the Game 2 victory to maintain a lead and keep the starters fresh throughout the series.
Of the Bucks' 27 points off the bench, Pat Connaughton dominated by scoring 18 points with a game-high field goal percentage (80%). If the Bucks continue to have big leads at the end of the game, several players off the bench will have opportunities to shine in the playoffs.
6. No Blake Griffin
Copy and pasted from our Game 1 coverage, Blake Griffin did not play due to left knee soreness but still ended up on the stat sheet after he was given a technical foul for arguing with officials.
Although Griffin did a light shootaround at the arena on Wednesday morning, the Pistons' star ultimately sat out come tip-off. After his Game 2 technical, which came during a timeout late in the third quarter, Griffin is now tied with the most technicals in the playoffs this year – despite not playing a single minute. Lucky for Blake, if the Bucks continue to destroy the Pistons, he won't have time to reach the seven technical limit that triggers an automatic suspension.
7. The sixth man
Although finding shades of blue and red at Miller Park can be easier than Milwaukee sports fans would like, you'd be hard-pressed to find more than a few Pistons fans at Fiserv Forum. Bucks fans came out in full force on Wednesday, selling out the arena for its second-ever playoff game with 17,513 fans passing through the turnstiles.
With crowd noise and thundersticks slapping to disrupt the Pistons' free throws and MVP chants fueling Giannis' aggressive and dominating mentality, the sixth man in Milwaukee will certainly be an X factor for the Bucks' playoff run. Notable names in the crowd on Wednesday included a couple other MVPs, as Aaron Rodgers and Christian Yelich both cheered on the Bucks for Game 2.
8. 14 wins to go
Two wins down and 14 to go until the Bucks can hoist the championship trophy for the first time in decades.
Not only did Milwaukee maintain home court advantage for the series by winning Games 1 and 2, but the team is a fraction closer to winning their first playoff series in many years and, more importantly, their first championship since 1971. While winning a couple playoff series would have amounted to a huge success for the Bucks, even a year ago, Milwaukee's regular season success has completely shifted the team's expectations.
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