After watching big leads being blown in games already in the first round, Milwaukee should have known not to overlook Detroit or relax. Giannis Antetokounmpo even talked about it on Tuesday. But in the first half, the Pistons came out with more energy and even changed their offense up a bit, firing off 16 3-point attempts in the first quarter and 23 overall in the first half (making nine), improbably taking a one-point lead at the half. Yes, the Bucks ended up running away with things in the third quarter en route to a 21-point victory, but notice was served that the Bucks just can't coast to a win.
This is why the Bucks re-upped Eric Bledsoe
After the game, Brook Lopez called Bledsoe a "pit bull." No wonder. Bledsoe was all over the court in Game 2, providing a lot of energy and also some much-needed scoring punch. He finished with 27 points -- a career playoff high -- in just 28 minutes, while making 11 of 19 shots (57.9%). Bledsoe also had six assists (and just one turnover), four rebounds, three steals and a block. He might not get a lot of headlines because of Antetokounmpo, but Bledsoe often is the engine that makes the Bucks run, and that was evident once again Wednesday night.
Pat Connaughton is the Bucks' X-factor
In the playoffs, Thon Maker used to be described as Milwaukee's X-factor. Well, he's gone (and struggling in Detroit) and Connaughton has taken over that mantle. After playing a team-high 28 minutes in Game 1, Connaughton filled the stat sheet while playing 30 minutes (third most on the team) in Game 2. He tallied a season-high 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting and had nine rebounds, three assists and four blocks.
We got a glimpse, sort of, of the playoff rotation
With Game 1 being a blowout early, it was hard to tell exactly what head coach Mike Budenholzer's plan would be for playing time. Game 2 gave us a better look. Budenholzer largely went with an eight-man rotation: starters Antetokounmpo, Bledsoe, Lopez, Sterling Brown and Khris Middleton along with Connaughton, George Hill (25 minutes) and Ersan Ilyasova (17 minutes), with a little bit of Nikola Mirotic (11 minutes) sprinkled in. D.J. Wilson and Tim Frazier only played in the final minute. Of course, Mirotic is still getting back into shape after missing some time, so his minutes could increase. And there's the eventual returns of Tony Snell, Pau Gasol and (soon, hopefully) Malcolm Brogdon to consider. We'll see what Game 3 brings as far as playing time, but we wouldn't be surprised if it mirrors Game 2.
Try as they might, the Pistons have no answer for Giannis
Detroit tried to play more physical and Antetokounmpo only could play 14 minutes in the first half due to picking up three fouls. But at halftime Bledsoe told him to be more aggressive and Giannis preached patience to himself … and then he went out and scored Milwaukee's first seven points to start the second half and had 13 points in the third quarter as the Bucks pulled away. We mentioned after Game 1 how much the Pistons miss Blake Griffin. Perhaps no one more than Andre Drummond, who after posting a box score +/- of minus-45 in Game 1 (the worst in the playoffs since that stat started being compiled), he was a minus-32 in Game 2. Antetokounmpo finished with 26 points (11-of-18 shooting), 12 rebounds, four assists and two blocks in 29 minutes. He has yet to play 30 minutes in the series and Milwaukee is up 2-0. Good luck, Detroit.