Tonight’s matchup between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Detroit Pistons carries high stakes for both teams. For the Pistons, it’s do-or-die for their 2018-19 season. For the Bucks, a win carries them further into the playoffs than they’ve been in decades...and primes us for a showdown with the Boston Celtics very soon. Detroit fans expect very little while Milwaukee fans expect an easy win, so expect this one to be a high-intensity battle.
The Milwaukee Bucks have outscored the Detroit Pistons by 72 points in these last three games. Were they to win by 28 in Game 4 (making it an even 100)...it would only be their second-largest margin of victory in the first round series.— Mitchell Maurer (@Mitchell_NBA) April 21, 2019
You could say that things are going well. Giannis Antetokounmpo had an off-game in Game 3, but should be no worse for wear. Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe, and Brook Lopez have picked up the slack in the starting lineup, and Nikola Mirotic had a decent game after two stinkers earlier in the series.
On the injury front, Tony Snell appears to be available as he works his way back from an ankle injury, but it’s unlikely for him to pry away any meaningful rotation minutes. Malcolm Brogdon, Donte DiVincenzo, and Pau Gasol remain unavailable.
Player to Watch: Pat Connaughton
In a development that surprised everyone, Planet Pat is third on the the Bucks’ minutes-played leaderboard in the postseason, with 28.7 per game. His enormous energy levels have provided a jolt off the bench, and despite the sterling play of Sterling Brown, Pat C has been hitting threes, grabbing boards, and blocking shots, while continuing to be one of the more fun players on a very fun team.
We’ve been here before, gang. Bucks fans know what this feels like. The Pistons, limping into the playoffs and terribly outmatched, came into this series expecting nothing while hoping for a miracle. This series has delivered no miracles, despite the shot in the arm provided by the return of the still-clearly-hobbled Blake Griffin, who played Giannis well in Game 3. From Detroit Bad Boys:
The only player who did not play well for the Bucks is the Greek Freak, which would make you think I would be writing a post about the Pistons winning instead of another blowout loss. The Bucks just further reaffirmed how good of a team they are because their supporting cast is just as much of a reason for their success as Antetokounmpo is.
There’s one silver lining to the way this series has gone for Detroit: their superstar cornerstone player (Griffin) has returned to gut it out through an injury, and his “courage” sets the tone for the organization as they head into the offseason to rebuild. That’s all I got.
The aforementioned Griffin is listed as “probable” with his knee issue, and the only other Piston on the injured list is Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, who definitely exists.
Player to Watch: Andre Drummond
Andre Drummond is a good NBA player, perhaps great if you put a high premium on rebounding and finishing at the rim. However, he’s a member of the (now) old guard of big men, with shooting range limited to what he can physically reach and defensive quickness not up to par with the NBA’s guards and wings. He can’t guard Brook Lopez beyond the three point line and recover to protect the rim from Giannis or Bledsoe or Pat or Khris Middleton or Sterling or basically any of Milwaukee’s non-centers. In 31.4 minutes per game, Drummond has put up an offensive rating of 90 and a defensive rating of 111. He has posted single-game +/- ratings of minus-8, minus-32, and minus-45. “Unplayable” doesn’t even begin to describe Drummond in this series, which makes how he handles the upcoming offseason an interesting storyline for the Pistons franchise and fanbase alike.
Game 4: Against the Pistons, the Bucks will...
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Win big (by 10 or more points)
Win close (by 9 or fewer points)
Lose close (by 9 or fewer points)
Lose big (by 10 or more points)