The Milwaukee Bucks could’ve easily rested their starters in this back-to-back, but I guess they decided to play it out and play it out they did, putting a 131-101 thumping on their division opponents the Detroit Pistons.
The Detroit Pistons posted as cold a quarter as you’ll find in the modern NBA to kick things off, while the Bucks found their way to a 30-8 advantage following the first. Rodney McGruder was the highlight of the second period as he almost single handedly brought the Pistons back into the game, but alas, the Bucks took the jab and provided a fitting counterpunch as they led 56-38 by halftime. It was mostly just pawing with the Pistons in the third quarter, with the Bucks maintaining a 90-68 lead after three periods. Any semblance of competition was already snuffed out by this point, and the fourth quarter featured backups by about halfway through.
Bud played his starters, I guess that’s fine? Realistically, it probably would’ve made more sense for him to rest everyone in this one to give them an extra night off. Who knows the real reason, but it did sound like he was going to talk with his players about how they wanted to approach these games. I’d always err on the side of caution, as any sort of injury would be incredibly detrimental to the team, but maybe he was frustrated by the defensive performance last night. Selfishly, it made writing this recap much more entertaining. Unfortunately, it might’ve backfired a bit on Bud…
Per the team, the Bucks originally called the injury that forced George Hill's exit from tonight's game "abdominal soreness". Upon further examination, that has now been changed and the official designation will be "back spasms" for Hill.— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) April 9, 2022
Brook Lopez...still good! Continuing his stretch of good play this week in anticipation of the Playoffs, Lopez was dominant inside against the smaller Pistons. They didn’t have a center capable of matching his size or girth, and repeatedly he got putbacks or was able to lumber his way into the paint for a simple slam. He even had a bodacious slam over a Piston in this game showing off some lift despite the back surgery. He’s been a huge part of Milwaukee’s resurgence in the paint after ranking near the bottom of the league for much of this year in that category. Milwaukee had 72 points in the paint! Brook ended with 17 points in just 21 minutes.
And for my last point, here’s Giannis completely obliterating fan not-favorite Kelly Olynyk. Oh this is sweet. He had 30/13/8 in just 28 minutes after scoring merely six in the first half.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- Within the first minute of this game, Giannis snapped this streak:
Giannis has now gone three straight games without making a first half free throw. Just 0/1 combined against the Mavs, Bulls and Celtics. Some good defense, not a lot of aggression on his part, and not much in the way of calls.— Frank Madden (@fmaddenNBA) April 8, 2022
- The Pistons are not the Celtics in any way imaginable, but Whoo boy the Bucks defensive effort certainly seemed at a different level in this one as they held the Pistons to a 1-16 start from the field while building a double digit lead.
- We haven’t talked much about Pat Connaughton since his return from the hand injury, partially due to some quieter games of late, but we saw him drive confidently into the paint in this game and finish through Kelly Olynyk at the rim. It was an encouraging sign after that seemed to be a point of emphasis for him to start the season.
- We have a new candidate for most audacious pass of the year, and it’s not a Jrue lob attempt to Giannis...the award goes to Khris Middleton, who tried to throw George Hill a contested alley-oop in transition in the second quarter. For Hill’s vertebrae’s sake, I’m glad he stayed nearly groundbound.
- This Pistons team is full of some promising young players and a bunch of guys that seem like cast-offs, but major credit goes to Dwayne Casey because they seemed like about as passionate a team as we’ve seen in awhile in terms of team chemistry. Constant cheering for one another. Whole benches helping teammates up from the floor. For a team that’s near the worst record in the league, that’s a credit to coaching.
- Giannis has certainly seemed to be taking more of a passive offensive approach these past few games, but I think these last couple teams are really doing him a favor by throwing so many doubles at him akin to coverage he’ll likely see in the postseason. Just more reps to help him ramp up.
Been fun to watch Giannis Antetokounmpo play with help and doubles the last couple weeks.— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) April 9, 2022
Over the last few years, he's gotten quite good at getting rid of it in a hurry, but now he's just been holding the ball high and waiting for cutters. Just whipped a beauty to Middleton.
- Anyone else get stuck listening to the Pistons broadcast on NBATV? I haven’t heard them before but I was pleasantly surprised. Their play-by-play man is crisp and they were quite complementary of the Bucks, Giannis and frequently asked why no one is talking about them as contenders.
- Cade Cunningham has some rookie moments, but for someone who basically the entire defense can key in on, I was pretty impressed by his ability to find ways towards the rim. He had one really nice dribble penetration and spin move in the first half. Here’s hoping he can help pull the Pistons back into relevancy to add some competition back to these matchups.
- I always kinda liked Rodney McGruder, and he posted an insane stat line with 26 points on 11 shots.
- Freshly signed Rayjon Tucker got his first appearance this season in a Bucks uniform.