The Milwaukee Bucks struggled this evening on the second leg of their back-to-back in Detroit, falling 98-83. After chipping away at a double digit halftime deficit, the Bucks offense struggled to keep up down the stretch as their chances of stealing a road win faded away.
A shot-happy night for both Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker didn’t translate into much production (30 points on 32 shots combined), and Matthew Dellavedova and Greg Monroe were the only other Bucks to crack double digits in scoring. Antetokounmpo’s 17 points (5/16 fg, 1/3 threes, 6/6 ft) , eight rebounds, eight assists and three blocks proved the only standout line from the box score, as the Bucks shot just 39 percent from the field, 4-of-17 from three and the defense was, well...predictable.
For the Pistons, Andre Drummond led the way, feasting on the glass to the tune of 23 rebounds (8 offensive) to go with 20 points, while the shooters and creators around him took advantage of the holes in the Bucks defense. Every Pistons starter finished with double digits in scoring and their starters outscored the Bucks starters 79-52. Though the Pistons also struggled from deep (5-of-20), Drummond’s big night powered Detroit to a commanding 58-40 advantage on the boards and the Pistons punished the Bucks’ complacency in transition, 21-9.
The team’s energy was relatively high early on. The offense consisted of an array of pick-and-rolls, though they struggled to create many looks out of them. Most of their production ended up coming out of Giannis, Jabari, or Greg Monroe creating in one-on-one situations. Specifically, Jabari was given four isolation opportunities coming out of the first timeout break, with mostly mediocre results (but they happened nonetheless, which is at least something).
Coming into the second, Jason Kidd again went to a lineup of Brogdon-Vaugn-Beasley-Teletovic-Monroe. The offense predictably slowed down as they struggled to create, which resulted in a string of turnovers (and subsequent Pistons fastbreak points) that prompted Jason Kidd to take a timeout. He replaced Brogdon and Monroe with Dellavedova and Henson, but it mostly was insignifcant as The Beasley Show continued (which was as inconsistent and mediocre as you’d expect it to be).
Most points for the rest of the half came by some form of transition offense for the Bucks. The team struggled in the halfcourt, as Pistons defenders ducked under every pick-and-roll from Giannis or Jabari. Jabari was given many more opportunities to playmake, but was mostly unsuccessful. Meanwhile, poor pick-and-roll defense and general overhelping lead to a barrage of Pistons three pointers, allowing Detroit to take a 50-39 lead into halftime.
A minute into the second half Parker was knocked in the head, requiring his exit to the locker room. He reportedly had three stitches put in above his left eye. He was replaced in the lineup with Teletovic. From there, Giannis was free to create offense for the team. Again given a laughable amount of space from Piston defenders at all time, he took advantage and made three of four jumpers in the middle of the quarter. Detroit continued to go under nearly every screen, including those with Dellavedova and Brogdon as ball handlers, as Bucks ball handlers avoided shooting pull-up jumpers out of them.
On the other end, Detroit found success in chucking jumpers, relying upon center Andre Drummond to clean up any misses, which he proved to excel at. They would go on to take a 75-65 lead into the fourth.
Because of Parker’s injury, we finally got to see what a Antetokounmpo-less, Jabari Parker-led lineup would fare. Tonight, it didn’t look great. Like the rest of the game, Parker’s playmaking attempts proved to be mostly unsuccessful, and he finished just 6-of-16 from the field for 13 points with six rebounds in 29 minutes.
The offense as a whole somehow got even more stagnant in the fourth (Tony Snell was forced to take consecutive three pull-up jumpers), with Van Gundy’s Pistons packing the paint consistently. Unfortunately, Giannis’ jumper abandoned him this time around, and the team managed just 18 in the final frame.
This one was hard to watch. The Bucks will look to bounce back against Anthony Davis and the Pelicans in New Orleans on Tuesday night.
This play out of halftime was...interesting, at least: