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Milwaukee vs. Detroit: Bucks Cruise to Victory, 121-86

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Milwaukee dismantles Detroit to go up 1-0

NBA: Playoffs-Detroit Pistons at Milwaukee Bucks Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the cold, wintery weather outside Fiserv Forum, the Bucks would be red hot and absolutely run Detroit off the court, 121-86. They are now up 1-0 in this best-of-seven series.

The Bucks would waste zero time to get started in this one. Their first points? Why, a Brook Lopez alley-oop, of course:

Yes, that really happened. Giannis Antetokounmpo would also connect on a pair of three point opportunities, and before you knew it, Milwaukee raced out to a 38-18 lead going into the second quarter.

The Bucks would continue to find a groove from there, something which would remain a frequent theme the rest of the night. A big spark from this quarter was George Hill, who came in and electrified everything to the next level, something he’s done in quite a few games down the stretch this season. Heading into the tunnel at halftime, Milwaukee easily earned a 70-43 advantage.

From that point forward, everything else was just added flavor. The Bucks continued to be in cruise control and won this won without any immediate danger from the Pistons at any point of this one. In the third quarter, Andre Drummond would be ejected for blatantly pushing Giannis Antetokounmpo to the side. It would be a ruled a flagrant-2 and Blake Griffin, who was wearing a suit on the sideline and not even playing, was issued a technical foul.

It eventually got to the point that when the fourth quarter rolled around, Tim Frazier was out on the court as the starting point guard. When you can do that in a playoff game, that’s pretty awesome. Utter domination by the Bucks in this one. When it was all said and done, they’d walk out of Fiserv Forum with a 121-86 Game 1 victory.

Three Observations

Get ready to see more of Giannis dominating.

Coming into this series, you had a feeling that Giannis Antetokounmpo would be getting his fair share of points. When Dwane Casey let the media know that Blake Griffin would be unavailable to play due to his ailing injury, you really knew that he was going to dominate. Detroit would be forced to place Thon Maker on him, and Giannis’ old teammate wasn’t able to do a single thing to stop him. Immediately from the start of this one, Giannis raced out and was getting buckets. In the first few opening minutes, he racked up two and-1’s, getting the crowd really riled up. He’d finish his night with a performance of 24 points, 17 rebounds, and four assists. And oh yeah, he did that in just 23 minutes. Oh, and the Bucks still won by 35 points.

I really anticipate George Hill being an X-Factor that will push the Bucks to the Finals.

It has become a re-occurring pattern: Bud trots George Hill out on the court and immediately as his number is called, his passion and aggressiveness fuels the Bucks to go on a run. Rinse, wash, and repeat, There’s no denying that the impact he has had on this team down the stretch of this season has been palpable, and we saw it again last night. I decided to ask Mike Budenholzer about this postgame, and he issued nothing but the highest praise for his point guard:

I don’t have the exact number of playoff games George Hill has played in and I have to leave for work soon, but know this — it’s a lot. Although the Bucks aren’t as young as they used to be (no matter how much Jason Kidd wants to believe so), that seasoned experience will definitely rub off on the other players and help carry this Bucks team to the Promised Land. Looking forward to see his contributions the rest of this playoff series.

Blake Griffin being out was the deciding blow for the Pistons.

As if they weren’t already done and dusted, Blake Griffin being out was just another nail in the coffin for this team. Also, in case you haven’t seen the news yet,

Yup. This series is 100 percent over. It really does suck, though. Griffin worked his tail off to get the Pistons here, and now he has to watch his teammates from the bench. You always want to see the opposing team be healthy, especially their star players. There’s no doubt that Detroit doesn’t have anybody to contain Giannis. Thon Maker gave it his all, but to no prevail. Casey attempted to put Andre Drummond on Giannis. That didn’t really work. Expect Giannis to have a field day in the remaining three games of this series, and rightfully so. Let’s get another 23 minute outing for the MVP. I’m all for those.

Bonus Bucks Bits

  • Can you think of any better way to start this playoff run than a Brook Lopez alley-oop? And he really threw it down too. Initially, I thought there was absolutely no way he’d be able to bring it down, but sure enough, he scaled the ladder. Get ready for NBA fans to exclaim, “Since when is Brook Lopez Dame Lillard???” after he pulls up from deep. I only saw it about six times yesterday.
  • It was very odd to see Thon go up against Giannis. It was definitely weird for Giannis as well, who mentioned it postgame. I guess I fell in the crowd of those who did not understand the boos for Thon as well. He clearly wasn’t getting the playing time he wanted, and he wants to take the next step in his career. That doesn’t sound too bad to me. I thought he gave it his all in Milwaukee, and it shows by what Giannis and the rest of the team thinks of him. I don’t know, that’s just my opinion. We’re all entitled to have one.
  • If this is the Giannis that we’re getting for this postseason run, LOOK OUT:

Oh, mamma mia. This is going to be a funnnnn playoffs.

  • In the second half, the Pistons elected to play a zone. Milwaukee had zero issues with that, as they’d just continue their gameplan of sinking a three and driving from wherever they pleased. Seems like a pretty good course of action if you ask me.
  • It was quite fun to see the Bucks dominate as much as they did without really finding the stroke from deep. I believe they were something like 7-of-22 from deep in the first half, a performance that you likely don’t see from this team. Nonetheless, despite the cold shooting, they still built up a 27 point halftime lead. That’s just wild, man. The versatility of this squad is how they earned 60 wins on the campaign, and we’re already seeing it in the playoffs.
  • Last, I’ve never seen a player in a suit on the sidelines get a technical, but alas, it happened to Blake Griffin. Turns out he did make an impact on this series after all.