Wow, wow, WOW. What a game. It had its ups and downs for sure, but the Bucks were able to escape the Bradley Center with an adrenaline-inducing 108-105 victory over Detroit. With this win, the Bucks improve to 40-36 on the season and take a 0.5 game lead over the Atlanta Hawks for the Eastern Conference’s fifth playoff seed.
Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way for Milwaukee with 28 points. Khris Middleton chipped in with 25 of his own (including the go-ahead shot) and THON MAKER! notched a career high with 23 points.
Action began with a bang. And I mean a loud, Mike Breen “Bang!”-esque start. It started with a Thon three, followed by a Middleton three and then a Delly three. All in all, it culminated in an 11-2 Bucks run to start things off before Detroit was forced to call a timeout.
And folks, it didn’t stop there. From there, the Bucks went on ANOTHER 11-2 run and again, making the Pistons elect to use another timeout. This place was rocking. Perhaps the loudest I’ve ever heard it in the Bradley Center this season. Thon was an electric factory right out of the gates, immediately making noise in the box score with nine points. Let’s just say this as an indicator of how the first quarter went -- Rashad Vaughn was out on the floor with more than five minutes remaining. When it was all said and done, the Bucks led 35-22 heading into the second quarter.
Unfortunately, the Bucks came back to Earth as the game proceeded. Detroit slashed their lead to 10 points, putting the Bucks in a situation where a timeout was needed. They’d get to single digits on a Tobias Harris 3-pointer with 7:45 left in the half and then within seven when converted a lay-up. The two teams pretty much traded buckets from that point, as the Bucks held a 56-48 advantage at intermission. Milwaukee built up their lead in large part due to 3-pointers. After hitting seven in the opening quarter, they drilled four more, equaling a halftime total of 11 threes.
Despite having their backs up against the wall early on, Detroit kept swinging the axe to cut the Bucks’ lead down. With five minutes left in the third quarter, they erased the score to just a three point deficit. That would be cut even further when Kentavious Caldwell-Pope soared in for a two-handed jam, escalating into a Milwaukee timeout. All the momentum that the Bucks had built up had funneled its way out.
Turnovers had a large say in Detroit getting back in it. By the end of the period, Milwaukee had tallied 11 of them. Sloppy passes, errant communication and the inability to haul in passes when they were made resulted in the Pistons taking advantage. A 14-2 run granted them their first lead of the night and psychologically messed with the Bucks. It seemed as if every shot they took was straight garbage and just a desperate heave. By the end of the quarter, the Pistons were ahead by two points, 73-71.
The fourth quarter continued with the Pistons’ game plan of working it inside. Every possession concluded in them making a drive towards the hoop — and the Bucks allowing it. Matt Velasquez summed it up pretty well here:
Pistons have made 1/12 three-point attempts in the second half and yet they've turned an 8-point deficit into a 3-point lead with 8:35 left.— Matt Velazquez (@Matt_Velazquez) April 1, 2017
However, the Bucks didn’t roll over. They pieced together a run and mitigated the deficit to just two after Antetokounmpo went 2-of-4 from the line. After trading a few baskets, the Greek Freak finally went 2-of-2 from the line and knotted the score up at 93-93.
After a Tobias Harris tip-in, Thon Maker reeled in a loose ball in the land down under and put it in for the tie. Marcus Morris’ go-ahead jumper failed to fall, and so did Khris Middleton’s 14-footer. With the score sitting at 95-95, overtime came upon us.
Overtime might’ve well been a boxing match. It was like two heavyweight fighters trading blows in the ring. Back and forth, back and forth. Thon drilled a 3-pointer with 1:58 to go, only to have Kentavious Caldwell-Pope answer him on the other end with a three of his own.
Then, Khris Middleton happened. His go-ahead 3-pointer with 40 seconds left served as the dagger to this terrific, terrific game.
I’m going to need a nap after writing this. My heart is racing.
- It was 90’s Night at tonight’s game. As always, it was awesome. The old school Buck running on the jumbotron during the intros made my night. I miss the green and purple colors SO much. The current uniforms are good, but nothing will ever come close to those in my book.
- I still cannot get over the energy that was in the building during that first quarter. All that was missing was Big Dog, Ray and Cassell out on the court putting on a show. The Fortress on 4th Street is rocking once again, ladies and gentlemen! UPDATE: I am typing this in the fourth quarter. The fans are now booing the team.
- In that first quarter, the Bucks sank not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, but SEVEN 3-pointers. They did a terrific job of working the ball around, making the Detroit defense work and finding the open man. When you hit open shots, good things happen and the Bucks definitely proved that tonight.
- 90’s Night made me remember all of the shows I used to watch as a kid. Rocket Power, Rugrats, Doug and Hey Arnold were some of my favorites. How about you? Let us know in the comments!
- Thon put forth an extremely impressive outing, with a career high of 23 points. This was definitely the most confidence he’s played with all season. It’s unreal how much/well he’s developed. Once he begins to add muscle and build up his lower body, he’s going to be a real force to be reckoned with.
- Did anyone notice just how much Greg Monroe was arguing with the officials during the third quarter? It seemed as if after every offensive possession, he lingered by the basket for a few extra seconds, just chewing the ref out and not getting back on defense. A little frustrating (he also received a technical during the quarter).
- I don’t know what was up with the Bucks’ interior defense tonight. They could’ve put a brick wall in the paint and Detroit still would’ve found a way to somehow score. Definitely something they’ll hopefully shore up come Sunday afternoon.
- I swear, Giannis shot 498 free throws in the closing minutes of regulation/opening minutes of OT. That’s how you know he’s reaching superstardom status — by getting to the line the way he is.
- This was a playoff atmosphere tonight at the Bradley Center. No other way to express it. It’s going to be a fun postseason.
The Bucks have tomorrow off, and will seek their 41st win (and a .500 record!) against the Dallas Mavericks in a Sunday afternoon matinee matchup.