The Milwaukee Bucks put on an offensive show for fans who were able to make it to the Forum for an early evening tilt against the Detroit Pistons. Down a pair of starters, Adrian Griffin’s bunch didn’t sweat it for more than a minute or two of game time as the Bucks cruised to a 146-114 win.
We knew heading into the game that Khris Middleton was going to be out, but we only found out right before tipoff that Malik Beasley would also be sidelined. No problem, said Griffin, who promptly inserted Andre Jackson Jr. and MarJon Beauchamp (who thus made his first start of the year) into the opening lineup. And it was those two who got things cooking for Milwaukee immediately, with Beauchamp scoring the first seven points for Milwaukee and AJJ adding in five of his own (including a nice three and stare down of Detroit’s bench) to open things up at 15-6 in favor of the Bucks early. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard would get into the groove shortly thereafter, and it is no exaggeration to say the game was easily in-hand for Milwaukee from there on. Lillard would hit three consecutive threes in short order and got to the line as well on his way to a 15 point frame, and a 43-20 Bucks lead.
The second quarter was close to all Bobby Portis for the Bucks as he dropped 18 points in the quarter. He did it with a mix of good-looking three-point shots (he’d end the night 4/7 from three), his usual midrange trickery, and simply outmuscling Ausar Thompson numerous times for offensive rebounds into putbacks into and-one opportunities. Naturally, he got the crowd pumped up as Milwaukee surged and maintained a roughly 30 point lead most of the quarter. Still, the Pistons benefitted from a stretch of sloppy closing play from Milwaukee who gave up four turnovers — three on bad passes leading to scoring chances and the fourth an offensive foul on Brook Lopez — and it was a 81-56 score at the half.
Detroit made one final push to the start the third quarter, looking the more interested team in the first minutes while Milwaukee continued to loaf a bit. More turnovers put Milwaukee’s defense on the spot, and the perimeter troubles we’ve grown used to cropped up again with the Pistons generating plenty of good looks inside off not much effort at all. The lead would shrink to 18 points, but that was as close as it’d get. A 15 point run between Giannis and Lillard did the trick and left the Bucks up 114-83 after three.
To close, the fourth was a formality. Bobby Portis continued on his hot streak to get himself to 31 points before promptly checking out of the game to applause, Cam Payne made a bevy of difficult shots for the hell of it, and Lindell Wigginton gave himself a very green light to shoot once he stepped on the court. Robin Lopez played.
Bucks win, 146-114.
What Did We Learn
The Detroit Pistons are as advertised: Godawful. Their offense is the basketball equivalent of a muddy swamp with extremely few moments of precision or collective action. Defensively, the best moment of their night was a Marvin Bagley block on a Dame three which merely keyed up a run of heat check threes from Lillard the following possessions. I know they’ve dealt with injury and have a young core, but I don’t see any positive endgame emerging from the group we saw last night.
For the Bucks, we learned that MarJon Beauchamp can indeed dunk off of one foot. In the first quarter he blew by Cade Cunningham on the perimeter, loped into the paint, and got enough air off one foot to slam it home over Bagley or Ausar Thompson. Between that and the handful of no-hesitation three-point takes Andre Jackson Jr. had on the evening, I’d say it was a good night for the young rotation Bucks.
Here are the timestamps of when Milwaukee’s victory cigar parade players first checked in to a game that was over almost as quickly as it started:
- Thanasis Antetokounmpo: 9:02 in the second quarter
- Robin Lopez: 6:00 in the fourth quarter
- Lindell Wigginton: 4:58 in the fourth quarter
With Khris Middleton and Malik Beasley sidelined for rest/illness, the Bucks would rely on some bench depth by necessity. The likes of AJ Green, MJB/AJJ, and even non-rotation players stood up to the moment and never allowed the Pistons to reel it back in. Even with both benches emptied late the Bucks group was able to prevent Detroit from, “making the final score respectable”. It was a classic complete victory.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- Good to have Pat Connaughton back after missing the previous six games. He’d feature in ~12 minutes and registered a team-best +28, adding six points, four rebounds, a pair of assists, and a block in a solid return outing.
- Dave Koehn, the radio voice of the Bucks and former radio play-by-play guy for University of Virginia basketball, filled in for Lisa Byington in the booth last night. Pretty obvious he’s a guy who is used to working solo on the call, although he and Marques did their best to build rapport on the fly.
- Speaking of the broadcast, Marques revealed that Giannis confided in him (in an elevator, no less) that he secretly loves when he scores 50 points. Marques then manifested more 60+ point performances in Antetokounmpo’s future. Thank you, Marques.
- Giannis’s sons got to bop down to the Bucks bench for the final six or so minutes of play — big shoutout to the retiree from Cudahy sitting courtside who yucked it up with Giannis like a guy who felt like he belonged there.
- Apparently Lindell Wigginton has the nickname, “Pookie”? I stopped paying attention once the game was put away and only half-caught that snippet.
- Can you imagine being a Pistons fan? My heart mildly goes out to another kindred has-been loser franchise: