Milwaukee trailed by six at the half, the second time in the four-game series in which Detroit led after two quarters. But just like in every other game in the series, including Game 2 when the Pistons took a one-point lead into halftime, the Bucks owned the third quarter. On Monday night, Milwaukee outscored Detroit 39-23 in the third (and an incredible 71-42 in the second half), taking over the game and never looking back en route to a series sweep. For the series, the Bucks outscored the Pistons in each game in the third and overall held a 52-point edge in that quarter.
Giannis fills up the stat sheet for both teams
Coming off a subpar (for him) Game 3, Antetokounmpo took his game to the MVP level in Game 4. He became the fifth Bucks player (and eighth time overall) to score 40 points in a playoff game (first since Michael Redd in 2006), tallying 41 points, nine rebounds , three assists and four blocks. He got to the line 20 times, making 15 – Detroit as a team attempted 12 free throws all game. Which leads us to our other point – Giannis helped get the Pistons into foul trouble. Forward Bruce Brown picked up three fouls in the first half and by the third quarter, big men Brown, Andre Drummond, Blake Griffin and Thon Maker all had at least four fouls. Griffin would foul out midway through the fourth quarter and the other three players each finished with five fouls. The impact Antetokounmpo had in drawing fouls meant the Pistons had to be more tentative on defense, for fear of picking up even more fouls, which was a big part of Milwaukee’s second-half dominance.
Don’t forget these Bucks can play defense, too
It’s easy to overlook how good is Milwaukee’s defense. In Game 4, Detroit shot 41% from the field. That’s not good, but it was also the best shooting percentage in any of the four games for the Pistons. In the series, Detroit made only 38.8% of its shots, including 41.7% of its 2-point attempts. Head coach Mike Budenholzer commented in his postgame interview that the Bucks’ defense helps setup their offense. Just add it to the recipe as to why the Bucks won each of these games by double digits, including three by more than 20 points.
You never know who is going to step up for the Bucks
Yes, you’re bound to get decent production out of Antetokounmpo, Eric Bledsoe, Brook Lopez and Khris Middleton. But Milwaukee is so much more than those four. We’ve talked about the Bucks’ depth before, but it still needs to be mentioned. One game it might be Pat Connaughton producing a big game, the next George Hill and the one after that Ersan Ilyasova and Nikola Mirotic. In Game 4, it was Sterling Brown, who put together a nice overall line of nine points, a career-high 13 rebounds (he had topped 10 rebounds just once previously), six assists and a steal.
It won’t get any easier than this
Detroit was an 8 seed and had a hobbled Blake Griffin. The Pistons were clearly outclassed by the Bucks, which won all eight games they played against Detroit in the regular season and the playoffs. Boston won’t be quite the same pushovers. The Celtics are coming off a four-game sweep of their own against Indiana, this coming after winning six of their final eight regular-season games. Milwaukee won two of three games against Boston. The loss came way back on Nov. 1 in Boston. The Bucks won on the road Dec. 21, although Al Horford didn’t play for Boston that game, and in Milwaukee – a one-point victory – on Feb. 21. Based on last year’s playoff series between the two teams, this will be a battle.