If there was any doubting how good the Milwaukee Bucks can be, the NBA’s top seed erased it on Sunday.
The Bucks dominated a short-handed Detroit Pistons team, 121-86, in Game 1 of the opening round of the playoffs. The win was the Bucks’ third-largest playoff victory in franchise history.
Milwaukee had no problem dispatching the Pistons, who were without All-Star forward Blake Griffin (left knee) and lost Andre Drummond midway through the game after he was ejected.
But the scariest part was that the Bucks didn’t even play their best game. With middling shooting and rest for Antetokounmpo, it looks like there could be even more in the tank for the Bucks.
Bucks go off to the races
Milwaukee went zero to 60 in a hurry, as the Bucks left the Pistons in the dust from the start. After Drummond tied the game at 2 on a layup, the Pistons trailed the rest of the way. The Bucks went on a 18-2 run with 10 points from Antetokounmpo alone.
The Bucks opened up a 38-18 lead by the end of the first quarter thanks in part to 5-of-5 shooting in the paint. They also drew nine free throws, three of which came from and-ones.
Still, the Bucks’ lead could have been even bigger. They only shot 4-of-13 from three in the first quarter, so the Pistons were lucky to only be down 20 in many ways.
Pistons lose Andre Drummond on Flagrant 2 call
Detroit was already lacking firepower with Griffin out, but the team looked exceptionally thin by the second half.
With the Bucks leading by 41 points late in the third quarter, D.J. Wilson clanked a three, and Antetokounmpo gobbled up his third offensive rebound. But as he was going up for the put-back, Drummond shoved him to the floor and earned an ejection on a Flagrant 2.
Replay Review (Game Crew): if foul committed by Drummond met criteria for a flagrant foul in Q3 of #DETatMIL. Ruling: Flagrant foul penalty 2 assessed to Drummond for making unnecessary and excessive contact with Antetokounmpo, Drummond ejected. pic.twitter.com/ygWjUIXz4a
— NBA Official (@NBAOfficial) April 15, 2019
Worse yet, Griffin made it into the box score by earning a technical foul from the bench while wearing a suit.
Bucks stay well-rested
One of the perks of being up by double-digits for all but two minutes of the game is that the team doesn’t need to play at 100 percent the entire way.
Antetokounmpo somehow reached another level after his MVP-caliber season, which resulted in 14 points and 10 rebounds in the first half. That made him the third Bucks player in the last two decades to string together a double-double in the first half.
Antetokounmpo eventually led all players with 24 points and 17 rebounds, but he didn't even need to return after checking out with three minutes left in the third. No Bucks starter played more than 25 minutes, and Pat Connaughton led all Milwaukee players with 28 minutes off the bench.
The Bucks spread the wealth around with seven players in double digits, their most in a playoff game in the last 20 seasons. It was quite the dominating performance, although the rest of the league should fear how much better they could play with Giannis activating playoff mode for nearly 40 minutes a game.
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