You can finally cross “Ugly Central Division loss with Giannis” off your dusty bingo cards folks, for the Milwaukee Bucks fell prey to a hungry Detroit Pistons team, 115-106 at Fiserv Monday evening. Detroit hung tough for the first, with the Bucks only snagging a 30-28 lead behind a buzzer-beating jumper from Giannis Antetokounmpo. A late 11-0 run without Giannis in the second helped propel the Bucks back from a deficit, going into half up 64-61. The third period continued Milwaukee’s cold stretch from deep while the Pistons got hot to start. The Bucks entered the fourth trailing 85-87, and could never get over the hump as Saddiq Bey’s career high 34 points lifted the Pistons over Milwaukee to snap a streak not just for Detroit, but the entire Central Division.
This is the Bucks first lost to a Central Division opponent in a game Giannis has played since December 12th, 2018. The 39 game win streak has come to an end— Jake Reetz (@jajareetz) January 4, 2022
Detroit was undersized all night; you’ll never guess what happened next. Giannis Antetokounmpo took it to the undersized Saddiq Bey in the post time, and time, and time again to start this game. When it was Luka Garza switched on him, he just went to the euro-step and finer roll in. The interesting wrinkle as the game wore on was that the Pistons started putting smaller players on him in Hamidou Diallo and eventually Josh Jackson too. They tried to aggressive front him deep in the post, with help behind, or they played him straight up on the perimeter and tried to force him into jumpshots. Frankly, I thought this was a game where they missed Brook Lopez, as the team continued to rely on 3-point shots rather than getting to bread and butter makes inside. Taking a higher percentage of triples than this undersized Pistons team, leading to just a +8 on points in the paint, was a failure of execution. Giannis had 31 on 21 shots to go with 10 boards and seven assists, but he never looked all that comfortable or in control after the first period.
Jrue Holiday posting up guards is one of my favorite pasttimes. Anytime he gets a player on his back, you just know he’s going to one of his favorites, either getting deep enough for a floater, pulling a drop step and a layup or just awaiting someone to flash to the bucket. The Pistons are full of young guards and he continued the roll he’s been on by taking advantage of Detroit all evening with his wily craft. This finish below might’ve been my favorite, with all its finesse past Justin Robinson. He was about the only positive to take from this game, scoring 29 on 19 shots.
Khris Middleton looked flat out off. He was returning from his personal leave of absence, but you know he doesn’t have it going when he hits a shot directly off the side of the backboard and airballs a triple in the same game. Middleton was aggressive to start the second half, but was out of sorts and couldn’t find a way to provide the complementary, consistent scoring punch this team needed with Giannis under duress and Holiday doing all he could. Still, him attempting fewer shots than Bobby Portis or Grayson Allen isn’t exactly the kind of shot distribution one likes to see. He had just 10 points on 10 shots in 28 minutes.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- The Pistons just walloped Milwaukee at their own transition game, holding the Bucks to merely 11 fast break points while notching 16 of their own. It was a fairly depressing display given this team’s predilection for scoring early and often before a team can get their defense set.
- The return of Khris Middleton also meant the return of the Middleton-Boogie pick-and-roll. They found a connection for a slick and-one in the second quarter as Cousins powered through Luka Garza.
- Few things are sweeter to me than getting a layup off a baseline out of bounds play. Holiday fed a cutting Allen in the second for an easy kiss off the glass. Mwah.
- Wes Matthews didn’t get to reap the rewards of the dunker spot addition last year, but he’s found ways to capitalize from there already this year. Holiday found him on a baseline cut in the second for a sweet lay-in.
- I’m not sure I’ve ever seen someone as deliberately get a delay of game call as Jrue Holiday did in the fourth period, when he held the ball after a layup and looked directly at the officials saying, “that’s a foul.” Eventually, it led to a technical.
- We got a very mini revenge game tonight from Justin Robinson, who found his way onto the Pistons roster after he was jettisoned from his two-way spot in Milwaukee in favor of Javonte Smart. I could almost feel Frank Madden shouting when Robinson drew a charge on Giannis in the first period.