Making his first appearance of the series after missing the first two games due to a knee injury, Griffin gave Detroit an early boost in confidence and energy, and appeared to throw the Bucks off their game a little bit. Playing 30 minutes (perhaps more than expected), he finished with a game-high 27 points to go with seven rebounds, six assists and two steals. However, he still had a box score +/- of minus-3 and the Pistons suffered another double-digit loss. Detroit doesn’t need Blake Griffin, it needs Blake Griffins.
Don’t forget about the ‘Mountain’ part of ‘Splash Mountain’
Brook Lopez got a lot of attention this season for his 3-point shooting, and for good reason – he set a record for 3-point makes by a 7-footer (187) – and he did make 3 of 7 from downtown in Game 3. But there’s more to his game, namely playing on the inside. Lopez blocked five shots and made 5 of 6 2-point attempts. Lopez totaled 19 points and seven rebounds while leading the Bucks with a plus-27.
Ersan Ilyasova can still provide a spark
Always good to take a charge or two, Ilyasova has been struggling offensively the past month or so. But with Milwaukee out of sync in Game 3, it was Ilyasova who hit the shots to keep the Bucks in the game. He sunk three straight 3-pointers in the first quarter, an offensive surge which was just what the doctor ordered at that stage of the game. He finished with 15 points in 22 minutes.
Good news for Nikola Mirotic
The Bucks acquired Mirotic with the intent of him being a big part of their playoff run. A thumb injury sidelined the big man at the end of the regular season and he didn’t see action again until Game 2. Perhaps that’s all the time he needed to shake off the rust. Mirotic hit 3 of 5 3-point attempts in Game 3 and nailed all three of his free-throw attempts, to total 11 points in 14 minutes. If Mirotic is back in the groove, Milwaukee is just even that more dangerous.
Giannis is human after all
Detroit got physical with Antetokounmpo, who already was battling through the usual bumps and bruises a player acquires during a long season. The result was Antetokounmpo’s worst game of the series. He scored just 14 points on 5-for-13 shooting, missing all three of his 3 attempts, with 10 rebounds, three assists, a steal, four turnovers and five fouls. He also was the only Bucks starter to have a negative box score +/- (minus-7). The good news is everyone else on Milwaukee stepped up and the Bucks won yet another game by double digits. It would behoove the Bucks to come out strong in Game 4 and finish off the sweep to give Giannis (and everyone else) some time to rest up for what should be a much tougher second-round series.