The Detroit Pistons took a hard-fought loss to the Milwaukee Bucks They came out the gate swinging and relentlessly dished out a physical brand of basketball that we have yet to see from this team play with before. They fought the Bucks with every fiber of their being, yet at the end of the day it wasn’t enough to get the job done. Giannis Antetokounmpo played spectacularly and showed why he is one of best players in the world. Here are the three makes and misses from tonight’s loss in Milwaukee.
1st Make: The Game was Tough and Physical
Before tonight’s 10th consecutive loss to Milwaukee, the Pistons had lost nine-straight games to the Bucks dating back to the 2018-19 season. I felt that the Pistons didn’t need anyone to remind them of that statistic. They appeared fed up with the fact that Milwaukee have had their number on more than one occasion, and so they wanted to show their grit and toughness in tonight’s game.
Throughout the entire contest, Detroit never backed down. Even when Milwaukee would build a sizable lead against the team, they came right back to make it a single-digit difference. There was plenty of physicality and scrappiness going on in the game whether it was pulling jersey, knocking players down on every other possession, hard screens, hard fouls, elbows being thrown, you name it. Brought flashbacks to the “Bad Boys” Pistons of old.
Unfortunately, the Bucks were able to pull away from Detroit and sustain a large lead of 24 points and win the game. But win or lose, you will always respect a Detroit Pistons team that will fight tooth and nail to achieve a victory. Detroit loves a team focused on winning the game…or the fight.
1st Miss: Outmuscled on the Boards
As admirable as the Pistons were in their attempt to wear the Bucks down physically, they failed to utilize that tactic when it came to outrebounding the Bucks. The Milwaukee Bucks outrebounded the Detroit Pistons 55 to 40. Milwaukee is a team filled with tall and lanky players. Whether it was Giannis Antetokounmpo, Robin/Brook Lopez, Ersan Ilyasova or D.J. Wilson, the Bucks just seemed to have too many bigger-bodied players to push the players out of the paint and grab the boards on both offense and defense.
Detroit isn’t what you would consider a big team in stature. Many of the players are undersized in their positions, and when you face a defensively engaged team like the Bucks, you have to make a more concentrated effort to win the battle of the boards if you intend on winning the game.
2nd Make: Blake Griffin vs. The Greek Freak
Blake Griffin versus Giannis Antetokounmpo—this matchup was a personal favorite for me in tonight’s game as both leaders of their respected teams consistently went at each other whenever they were matched-up against the other.
Griffin came off as the initiator in being physical with Antetokounmpo—whether it was on offense or defense, you could tell that Griffin wanted The Greek Freak to feel his presence and recognize that Griffin was the bigger and stronger player.
The referees did a pretty good job of holding off on blowing their whistles and letting the two players just play and calling fouls to impede any growing tension on the court between the two.
But Antetokounmpo being arguably one of the top three players in the world was not one to back down from a challenge—whenever Griffin dished it out, he came back just as hard. Aside from winning, The Greek Freak did win the stat column by recording 35 points and 9 rebounds to Griffin’s recorded 16 points and 10 rebounds.
If you’re a fan of NBA basketball at it’s best, you can always appreciate and enjoy watching two All-Star players at their respective positions go at each other to not only try and help their team win but to also see who is the apex player between the two.
2nd Miss: Svi Myukhailiuk is No Luke Kennard
Luke Kennard was scratched off tonight’s playing roster due to injury even though you could see him on the bench in his warm-up uniform appearing as if he was ready to go. As a replacement for Kennard’s absence, Coach Dwane Casey plugged Svi Myukhailiuk into the starting lineup as the shooting guard—to less than stellar results.
Myukhailiuk played 28 minutes, shot 2/8 from the field (his only two makes coming from the three-point line), scored six points and dished three assists. For most of the night he couldn’t seem to find the rhythm he needed shooting the ball. His defense was pretty solid, and he was a decent playmaker, but he just couldn’t seem to do his best Kennard impersonation on a night where Detroit really could’ve used the services of a Luke Kennard.
Kennard is a shooting guard that not only offers shooting, but assistance as a secondary ball-handler and playmaker—a unique ability to not only create open looks for himself but his teammates as well.
As skillful as Myukhailiuk is as a player, his performance was less than stellar. Understandably the task of him replacing a player that contributes 16.5 ppg, 4.3 apg and shoots 40% from three, is a tough act to follow. You would’ve just liked for him to be more consistent and provide the team with some much-needed scoring from three-point range.
3rd Make: Playing with an Edge
I loved the way the Pistons approached the Bucks in tonight’s game. For the first time in a while, Detroit played with a bit of an edge and really wanted to make their presence felt on defense. Whenever you mention a Detroit Pistons team and the word toughness together in the same sentence, it shouldn’t off come off as a surprise to anyone. Toughness has a history that is woven in the fabric of this franchises’ history.
Don’t get me wrong, no one is mistaking this particular team as a defensive juggernaut, like the “Bad Boys”. But for the team to show some aggression and ferociousness in trying to manhandle the Bucks, you can’t help but love watching them play that way.
The structure of this team is built to be elite offensively. They are currently ranked 4th in the league in field percentage at 47.6%.
Having skillful players such as Griffin, Kennard, and Derrick Rose, this team was assembled to be a force on offense. But defense is what every team needs to have to compete night in and night out in the NBA. Defense will always help any team have a fighting chance at competing for a world championship. Not to say that this particular team can win a title this year, but when you make it hard and challenging for your opponent to score on you consistently, you’re not too far behind in your goal of obtaining a championship title.
3rd Miss: Missed Opportunities
The Pistons missed some crucial opportunities tonight. They couldn’t seem to seize the moment when the time requested it. Detroit left a lot of points on the table by missing a lot of close-range shots near the basket, going 39 for 93 ( 41.9% from the field) and only making 14 out of 22 free-throws (63.6%).
Even though the Pistons recorded less turnovers than the Bucks, 16 to 12—the team cost themselves several moments of momentum building with costly turnovers at essential moments of the game. There were times where the Pistons played great defense but couldn’t knock down consistent jumpshots to help establish a solid lead against the Bucks, having their largest lead be only four points.
Even after coming off of a game the night before where they blew-out the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Pistons didn’t appear lethargic. Their shots just didn’t seem to consistently fall for them. By them not being able to match their scoring to the level of their defense, Detroit couldn’t command a strong lead against the Bucks. Ultimately, this aspect of the game cost them dearly.
(Featured image by Rick Ostenowski/USA Today Sports)