Bucks throttle Pistons in Game 1
MILWAUKEE (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo ran and dunked all over the Pistons until they just shoved him to the ground.
The team with the NBA’s best record wanted to show it can make a long playoff run, and the Detroit Pistons were helpless to slow them down.
“I don’t know if they were ready for us,” Antetokounmpo said. “But we just try to focus on ourselves. We just try to play with pace, run to our spots and try to make plays.”
Antetokounmpo had 24 points and 17 rebounds in just 24 minutes, and the Milwaukee Bucks rolled to a 121-86 victory on Sunday night in the opener of their first-round playoff series.
Seven players scored in double figures for the Bucks, who led by as many as 43 points. Their 35-point margin was the third-largest in the franchise’s playoff history.
The Pistons only really caught up to Antetokounmpo when center Andre Drummond shoved him to the ground with both hands late in the third quarter, after the MVP candidate grabbed an offensive rebound with Detroit trailing by 41 points.
Drummond was given a flagrant 2 foul and ejected. He blew a kiss to the Fiserv Forum crowd as he was escorted off the court.
“As a team we talked about it, to try to keep our composure whenever the opposing team tries to foul us hard or tries to hit us or play dirty,” Antetokounmpo said. “Obviously, I’m not going to look to the referees for protection. I’ve just got to play smart and try to avoid the situations.”
Antetokounmpo was only 5 of 12 on free throws and 1 of 5 from 3-point range, but was 9 for 17 from the field.
Eric Bledsoe had 15 points, and Brook Lopez and Khris Middleton each added 14 for the Bucks. George Hill scored 16 points off the bench.
“We were all over the map defensively and didn’t get anything done,” coach Dwane Casey said of the Pistons, who allowed 70 first-half points and trailed by 27 at intermission. “We have another level we have to get to with our intensity and physicality, because they’re coming through there with balance, Euro-stepping, throwing elbows and stuff like this.
“We have to get our level of competitiveness up to start the game, because you can’t spot a great team like this that many points and expect to get back into it.”
Luke Kennard paced the Pistons with 21 points off the bench and Drummond had 12 points and 12 rebounds. Reggie Jackson also had 12 points. Detroit played without forward Blake Griffin, who sat out with a left knee injury.
Detroit shot 38% from the field and went 8 of 27 from 3-point distance (29.6).
“I think it was top-notch today,” Bledsoe said of the Bucks’ defensive performance.