Believe it or not, there was more that happened in the sports world yesterday than Tiger Woods winning his 5th Masters Tournament. In fact, our hometown favorite, Milwaukee Bucks, hosted the Detroit Pistons in their first playoff game of the 2018-19 season. Led by Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 24 points and 17 rebounds, the Bucks won, 121-86.
An NBA series isn’t one game so it is important to look ahead to future matchups. Game 2 will take place Wednesday night at the Fiserv Forum. This is what Milwaukee fans should watch for.
The Return of Blake Griffin
It was announced before Game 1 that Pistons’ star, Blake Griffin, would miss the series opener. However, he is listed as day-to-day and with Monday and Tuesday off, expect Griffin to be on the court in Game 2. Griffin is subjectively, Detroit’s best player by far. He is their number one option and the Pistons are a totally different team with him. The Pistons you saw on Sunday, will not be the same team you see on Wednesday. Griffin averaged 24.5 points per game, 7.5 rebounds and 5.4 assists this season. By no means is he the one dimensional, high-flying forward people remember from his Clipper days. He is the best he’s ever been. Milwaukee will have to come up with a different defensive game plan when Griffin is on the floor in Game 2.
Milwaukee started off Game 1 on a mission to destroy. They produced a 20-4 lead four and a half minutes into the game. They continued to grow that lead to 20 by the end of the opening quarter. The Bucks need to start off Game 2 with the same energy they put into the opener. Milwaukee has to set the tone, played focused, and come out ready to go. For the second consecutive game, they need to put the Pistons away early and feed off the energy the Fiserv Forum always brings.
Rebound By Committee
Andre Drummond was mentally out of Game 1 early in the second quarter. He finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds. If Drummond remains focused throughout Game 2, he can prove to be an unstoppable force. He led the league in rebounds per game the past two seasons at 16.0 and 15.6 respectively. Drummond is a huge body and an absolute force in the paint. Guys like Giannis, Lopez, Mirotic, and Ilyasova all have to play physical and rebound as a team to limit Drummond’s ability to eat up the glass or second chance points can pile up fast.
Most Bucks’ fans know the story of Thon Maker. He wanted more playing time in Milwaukee, didn’t get it, then asked to be traded. The Bucks found a trade partner in the Pistons and that is where Maker found his home. During the rest of the season in Detroit, he averaged 5.5 points per game while shooting 37%. Game 1 proved that Milwaukee is not missing much with Thon. In his return to Milwaukee, he had 4 points on 2-10 shooting, 0-6 from three, 4 rebounds, and 4 fouls in 22 minutes. Oh, and he was also a minus 16. He had no chance of guarding Giannis and struggled shooting so much that Mirotic wouldn’t even extend his defense to the elbow. It will be interesting to see how the former Bucks’ fan favorite bounces back in Game 2.
The Milwaukee Bucks are 14.5 point favorites in the Eastern Conference matchup on Wednesday. If they play anyway like they did on Sunday, that number should be switched to 24.5 point favorites. The game will be played at 7:00 p.m. Central Time.
One more thing. Watch for Giannis to THROW THE HAMMER DOWN on Andre Drummond for the bush league flagrant foul that got the Piston’s center ejected in Game 1. Drummond added fuel to the fire that burns within Giannis, and mark my words, he will unleash during Game 2. If I were Andre Drummond, I would absolutely watch out for the poster that is inevitably going to happen.