MILWAUKEE | The Milwaukee Bucks dominated the Detroit Pistons in Game 1, winning 121 to 86.
Player of the game: Giannis Antetokounmpo
Giannis led the Bucks, scoring 24 points while hauling in a playoff-career-high 17 rebounds. This was his second 20-point/15-rebound playoff game of his career. His 17 rebounds are the most by a Buck in a playoff game since Ervin Johnson grabbed 17 boards on 5/28/01. Giannis did it in only 23 minutes of play.
He had a ‘take no prisoners’ approach from the get-go attacking the rim with ruthless aggression. Giannis was even seen saying “I’m f****** unstoppable,” after a take to the hole. Earlier this season he was caught saying “I’m the f****** MVP,” after throwing down a dunk on the 76ers’ Ben Simmons. It’s hard to argue with either one of those statements.
Head coach Mike Budenholzer shared his thoughts on Giannis having another big performance.
Its what we have been seeing from Giannis all year. I think he has prepared himself. He is ready, and he expects a lot of himself. He delivers a lot of the time.
Play of the game: He took off from where?!
Dunks are still the most exciting play in basketball. Giannis threw down a slam that had the entire Fiserv Forum crowd on their feet Sunday night. He took off from near the free-throw line.
Michael Jordan got a 50 in the Dunk Contest from his free-throw line dunk, but you don’t normally see that in a game, a playoff game for that matter.
The good: The focus
Focus has been one constant for Milwaukee this entire season and they didn’t lack any in Game 1. From the starters to the bench, the Bucks were determined to make a statement that they are here to dominate.
We all knew coming into this series that the Pistons can’t match-up with the talent-level of the Bucks. However, upsets can happen if the superior team takes the inferior team lightly. It happened to Philadelphia, Toronto and Denver on Saturday as they all fell in game one of their respective series.
Detroit didn’t match Milwaukee’s intensity and it showed. If the Pistons can’t up their competitiveness, there will be more of the same moving forward.
Budenholzer talked about the focus of his group.
I think the focus of the group and the defensive effort stands out. It’s not easy when you don’t get to play the last couple of games, the last game, or you don’t have a lot of time between games. So, I think the guys have built up a lot of readiness or whatever word you want to use. It’s a good win for us. Now, we just have to be humble and get ready for the second game and take the focus into game two.
The not so good: Was there any?
It’s hard to find areas of the game that the Bucks weren’t good in. However, one thing that wasn’t so good was Andre Drummond’s flagrant foul on Giannis. As the two were going for a rebound, Drummond shoved Giannis to the ground. He was ejected after being assigned a Flagrant 2.
The weird: Bucks vs Thon Maker
Maker described playing against his former team as “Weird,” prior to tip-off. Maker had a rough showing in the game as well. He had the assignment of defending his good friend and NBA MVP candidate, Giannis.
Giannis spoke about playing against his former teammate.
Of course it feels weird. Thon is my little brother. I’ve known him since he came to the league. We’ve been friends. At the end of the day, I know he’s a competitor. I know he’s going to come out here and do whatever it takes to help his team win. That’s what he did tonight. At the end of the day, both of us aren’t going to take anything for granted.
Stat of the game: 28
28 minutes was the team-high for the Bucks on Sunday and it was held by Pat Connaughton. Who would’ve thought that Connaughton would lead the Bucks in minutes, and they would win a playoff game by 35 points?
Budenholzer has done a terrific job all season long managing the minutes of his players. It goes to show you the amount of depth this team has.
Middleton talked about the minutes he and Giannis played and Connaughton being the minutes leader.
If we win like that, for sure. We’ve had a lot of games this year where we haven’t played a lot of minutes. That just means the team is doing their job, as a group. Guys are coming in off the bench, starters are doing their job. If Pat’s leading us in minutes and we’re winning these ball games, I don’t think anyone is going to complain, especially Pat.
What they said:
Khris Middleton on the offensive contributions form the whole team
It’s great. I think it’s been like that for most of the year. I know I can take tough shots and play with an offense. Tonight, the guys were great. Giannis did a great job of starting us off right and being in an aggressive attack mode. Everybody else, we just made plays and knocked down shots.
Giannis on if they sent the message they wanted to send in Game 1
I think we did a great job setting the tone, playing hard playing together. The Pistons are a really good team, but we knew we needed to set the tone, and we were able to get a win tonight.
Pistons head coach Dwane Casey on the game not going the Pistons’ way
They’re a great team. We didn’t meet the level of physicality. Then we got some cheap fouls, but we have to get up to their speed of the game. They’re averaging 117 [points per game]. We were all over the map defensively. We didn’t get anything done. We have another level we have to get to with our intensity and physicality, because they’re coming through with balance. We have to get our level of competitiveness up to start the game, because you can’t let a great team like this get that many points early and expect to get back into it.
In case you missed it:
*The Bucks took a 1-0 series lead with Sunday’s wire-to-wire 121-86 victory over the Pistons. Milwaukee’s 35-point win marks the third-largest playoff win in franchise history.
*Milwaukee’s 70 first-half points are the second-most first half points in Bucks playoff history (77 in Game 3 of the 1970 Eastern Division Semifinals at PHI) and were the most in any playoff half by the Bucks since the second half of Game 3 of the 1987 First Round at Philadelphia (73 points)
*As a team the Bucks hauled in 54 rebounds, marking just their third playoff game with 50 + rebounds since the 2000-01 season.
*The Bucks had seven players score in double figures Sunday night, their most in a playoff game in the last 20 seasons.
The Bucks will look to take a 2-0 series lead in Game 2 against the Pistons on Wednesday.