The Milwaukee Bucks have waited 18 years to host Recreation 1 of a playoff sequence. In these years, they have not superior within the postseason and town of Milwaukee has solely witnessed simply 9 playoff wins and 12 losses, together with 4 that ended seasons.
Now, after a season during which they earned the perfect document within the NBA, the Bucks entered the playoffs with each alternative to relaxation on their laurels. They swept the season sequence from the Detroit Pistons, Four-Zero, and most of these video games weren’t shut. On Sunday, the Pistons had been with out all-star ahead Blake Griffin, too, placing them at a significant drawback.
However the Bucks, enjoying their first-ever playoff sport at Fiserv Discussion board, did not coast or play all the way down to their competitors. As a substitute, they rampaged to a 121-86 beatdown, dominating from tip to buzzer to the delight of the Sunday night time sellout crowd.
“We ain’t fearful about no person else’s workforce,” level guard Eric Bledsoe mentioned. “That’s what I feel was so nice about this workforce this yr is we didn’t concentrate on the standings; we performed our sport and took care of who we needed to. We’re targeted on us.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo set the tone early, attacking former teammate Thon Maker twice on drives to the rim and incomes foul calls. It was a reunion of types for the pair who contemplate one another brothers after practically three years collectively, however neither held again, significantly Antetokounmpo.
Then, barely greater than two minutes into the sport, Antetokounmpo once more pushed in transition, charging at Bruce Brown for a layup and a foul.
BOX SCORE: Bucks 121, Pistons 86
As the gang erupted and Antetokounmpo beat his chest, he uttered phrases that encapsulated every little thing that was to return, each concerning him and the remainder of the Bucks.
“I am (expletive) unstoppable!” Antetokounmpo growled. At that time, the rating was solely 10-2, however the rout was on.
The Pistons certainly had no reply for something Antetokounmpo of the remainder of the Bucks did all through the night time. Antetokounmpo led all scorers with 24 factors and 17 rebounds whereas enjoying simply 23 minutes within the blowout. If there was ever a time for a mercy rule, it will have been after an Antetokounmpo dunk from a step contained in the free-throw line on a breakaway within the third quarter, however on this night time, there was no mercy available.
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Antetokounmpo was certainly one of seven Bucks to attain in double figures.
“There’s all the time areas to enhance, we are able to get higher offensively,” coach Mike Budenholzer mentioned, “however I find it irresistible once I see a field rating the place numerous guys are collaborating, numerous guys are having good video games and we’re not completely depending on simply these high three guys, high 4, high 5 guys.”
Bledsoe had a quiet 15 factors and 5 assists in 25 minutes. Khris Middleton took a while however received cooking with 14 factors on Four of seven three-point taking pictures to go along with 5 rebounds and 4 assists. Brook Lopez added 14 factors and 4 blocks whereas locking down the paint to assist maintain the Pistons to 38% taking pictures and George Hill had 16 off the bench.
No Bucks starter performed greater than 25 minutes and nobody on the workforce performed greater than Pat Connaughton’s 28 minutes within the slaughter.
“We’ve had quite a lot of video games this yr the place we haven’t essentially performed too many minutes, however that simply means the workforce is doing our job as a bunch,” Middleton mentioned. “Guys are coming in off the bench, the starters are doing their job, so if Pat’s main us in minutes and we’re profitable these ball video games I don’t assume you’ll hear anyone complaining, particularly Pat.”
Down greater than a dozen lower than six minutes in, coach Dwane Casey instructed his workforce to play zone, one thing the Pistons nearly by no means did through the common season. It did not assist. He additionally switched middle Andre Drummond onto Antetokounmpo, a tactic different groups have tried at occasions this season. It labored about as a lot as Detroit’s zone did.
No matter who was on the court docket for both workforce, the Bucks dominated in each facet of the sport, constructing a 20-point lead after the primary, a 27-point benefit at halftime and ballooning the margin to as many as 43 factors late within the third quarter.
At occasions when different groups may need let up, the Bucks solely pushed more durable.
“You have a tendency to take a look at the scoreboard and also you notice you’ve got an enormous lead like that you just have a tendency let down, you have a tendency to slide and that’s not the appropriate strategy to play the sport or end the sport,” Middleton mentioned. “You don’t need to give them any kind of rhythm or something they see that they’ll reap the benefits of (later). Simply attempt to play the sport the appropriate manner and never play the rating.”
The distinction reached its widest level following what was the chippiest second of the night time.
With the Bucks already up by 41 with Four minutes and seven seconds left within the third quarter, Antetokounmpo rebounded a miss by D.J. Wilson. He set his toes to stand up for a putback when Drummond aggressively shoved him to the bottom, by no means going for the ball.
The foul was reviewed and deemed to be a flagrant-2, resulting in Drummond’s ejection and thunderous cheer from the sellout crowd. So as to add insult to harm, Griffin, who was on the sideline in a swimsuit, was assessed a technical foul after sharing his ideas with the officers following the evaluate.
Whereas the sellout crowd labored itself right into a froth, the Bucks calmly attended to their downed star, choosing him up and avoiding an additional altercation.
“As a workforce we talked about it, to attempt to preserve our composure every time the opposing workforce tries to foul us laborious or attempt to hit us or play soiled,” Antetokounmpo mentioned. “We mentioned we’ve received to maintain our composure, we’ve received to do our job and our job is to win video games. Clearly, I’m not going to look to the referees for defense, I’ve simply received to play sensible and attempt to keep away from the scenario.”
That temporary second of drama gave strategy to each groups’ bench models enjoying out the string within the fourth quarter, with the Bucks’ reserves choosing up the place their teammates left off. Nikola Mirotic, in his first motion since breaking his left thumb March 19, scored all 4 of his factors within the fourth quarter and completed the sport 2 of eight from the sector and Zero for five on three-pointers.
All instructed, Sunday was an ideal tone-setter for the Bucks, one 18 years within the making. The problem now for the Bucks might be to show they’ll do it once more after two days off with Recreation 2 on Wednesday.
“I don’t assume it’s actually something that we have now to pressure or actually take into consideration an excessive amount of simply because we have now such an important locker room, such an important group of fellows,” Lopez mentioned of maintaining the depth. “It simply comes pure. …
“We’ve held ourselves the identical manner sport in, sport out no matter what’s occurred. I imagine we’re simply going to proceed to try this.”
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