Bucks 119, Pistons 103: Last word

DETROIT | The Milwaukee Bucks took a 3-0 series lead over the Detroit Pistons with a 119-103 win Saturday in Detroit.

Player of the game: Khris Middleton

Middleton led the Bucks with a team-high 20 points (7-13 FG, 3-6 3PT), eight rebounds and four assists. “Khris did a great job of guiding the team and making the right plays,” Giannis said.

Often overshadowed by the MVP candidate, Middleton was an all-star this season and is capable of leading Milwaukee to victory. Fans will argue whether he’s worth or not worth a max-contract this offseason but one thing you can’t argue is how important he is to the success of this team.

Play of the game: Eric Bledsoe dances through two Pistons

Bledsoe has been a match-up nightmare for the Pistons. His quickness and strength have been difficult to stop. He showcased both with this play late in the second quarter.

The good: The balance

Milwaukee got contributions from almost everywhere. Seven players scored in double figures.

“Lots of different people stepping up and playing well,” head coach Mike Budenholzer said. “George off the bench, I just think Bled’s defense and Bled’s energy, Brook, Khris, all those guys. Just a really good overall team performance tonight.”

Ersan Ilyasova got Milwaukee going in the first knocking down three shots from beyond the arc to help withstand the strong start by the Pistons. “That’s what our bench was doing all year long, including this series,” Middleton discussed. “When they come in they’re ready to play. Ers did a great job of being ready. He got three great looks from three and he knocked all of them down. Just took a lot of pressure off us, allowed us to relax, play our game and play within the flow.”

Brook Lopez poured in 19 points (8-13 FG, 3-7 3PT), seven rebounds and five blocks, four of the blocks coming against Andre Drummond. “He’s 7’8”, isn’t he,” Pistons’ head coach Dwane Casey joked when discussing Drummond’s struggles with Lopez. “A lot of people struggle against him.”

Eric Bledsoe finished with 19 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals.

Nikola Mirotic had his best game of the series with 12 points (3-5 3PT) contributing to Milwaukee’s 42 bench points. George Hill added 11 points and five assists.

The not so good: Giannis Antetokounmpo

For his standards, Giannis had an off night. He finished with 14 points (5-13 FG), 10 rebounds and four turnovers in 28 minutes of play. He ended up with the worst +/- of the Milwaukee starters with a -7.

“It’s good to see my team doing really well out there without me,” Giannis said. “It means a lot to me. Even when I don’t play my best game, having the team playing such a good game and winning a playoff game – on the road – it makes me feel really good about this team. It shows the great character this team has and what a great team this team is. There’s going to be nights like this and I think my teammates did a great job picking me up.”

It says a lot about this team that they can win by double-digits on the road while their star struggles. Obviously, the Bucks need the very best from Giannis if they expect to go deep in the playoffs, but Saturday’s game reinforces the fact they are more than just Giannis. Giannis is surrounded by many capable players who can perform on both ends.

Stat of the game: 1

The Bucks are one win away from their first playoff series victory since 2001. They’ve been building to this point the last few years. Two seasons ago, they lost to the Raptors in six games. Last year, they fell to the Celtics in seven games. Now, they have a chance to sweep the Pistons and move on to the second round.

“We might be the No. 1 seed and the best team in the NBA, but at the end of the day we haven’t won a playoff series in a while and we’re hungry,” Giannis said. “I think everybody’s hungry. It starts from our coach, it starts from the leader setting the tone. We’re just going to keep fighting, we’re going to keep playing hard and try to win as many games as possible.”

What they said:

Lopez on the depth of the Bucks

They can’t sleep on anyone. Our depth is a huge boon for us, it’s a huge bonus we have. We just got to keep going to that. We’ve been putting trust in a lot of different people all season long and guys have been showing why we’ve been doing that.

Casey on the loss

We made some uncharacteristic mistakes. That’s what the playoffs are about – getting through that, understanding time-score-situation. We had situations where we’d make a mistake or miss a shot, now we go down to the defensive end and not carry out our assignments.

What’s next?

The Bucks will look for the series sweep of the Pistons Monday night in Detroit. Tip-off is scheduled for 8pm eastern time.

Bucks 120, Pistons 99: Last word

MILWAUKEE | The Milwaukee Bucks to a 2-0 series lead with a 120-99 win over the Detroit Pistons Wednesday.

Player of the game: Eric Bledsoe

Bledsoe scored a playoff-career-high 27 points on a playoff-career-high 11 made field goals (11-19 FG). Often the gritty defender for Milwaukee, Bledsoe was a go-to guy offensively Wednesday night. He always seems to be the player to score a big bucket or make a huge steal when they need it the most.

For someone who struggled in the playoffs last season, it’s great to see how much he’s turned it around this year. “I feel like for us as a team, we have players that have been on the team for a while,” Bledsoe stated. “We went through adversity, seven games last year. We know what it takes now. We are focused, so we’re trying to block everything out and focus on us, just do our job.”

Play of the game: Giannis gets back at Thon

Maker may have made the defensive play of his career stuffing Giannis at the rim. However, his glory wouldn’t last long as Giannis attacked Maker the very next play.

The two are the best of friends. Giannis even refers to Maker as his younger brother, but in the playoffs, Giannis is all business. He spoke about the sequence after the game.

I’m just trying to do my job, try to be aggressive. Obviously, Thon is 7’1”, 7’2”, long, he can block shots, that’s one of the things he does great. I tried to get him a little deeper in the paint and I was able to dunk on him. But I was just trying to do my job and make plays.

The good: Star-power at Fiserv

Several Wisconsin athletes came out to support the Bucks. Current Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers and David Bakhtiari were spotted in the crowd. Also, multiple members of the Milwaukee Brewers cheered on the Deer including last year’s NL MVP Christian Yelich, Ryan Braun and Craig Counsell.

The not so good: 2nd quarter

Milwaukee failed to outscore Detroit in only one quarter, the second (32-20). The Pistons were clicking on all cylinders offensively and defensively. They knocked down four of their seven three-point attempts and forced the Bucks to commit seven turnovers leading to nine points.

“I thought Detroit came out in the second quarter and their energy exceeded ours,” Brook Lopez discussed. “At times, their focus exceeded ours.”

It was a tough stretch for Giannis as well. He was only able to score three points and had to come out early after picking up his third foul.

This was the first time in the series that the Pistons looked like they could compete with the Bucks. They were able to find multiple open looks from downtown on drive-and-kicks. It could be a good thing for Milwaukee. Maybe the second quarter will end up being a wake-up call that they can’t play down to the level of the competition, especially in the playoffs.

The weird: Pink panther

Giannis was decked out in pink as he entered the post-game press-conference media room humming the theme to ‘Pink Panther.’ I think it’s safe to say that this team is loose and loves to have fun.

Stat of the game: 31 minutes for Pat Connaughton

Connaughton scored a playoff-career-high 18 points (8-10 FG) and hauled in a playoff-career-high nine rebounds in his 31 minutes of play. He also added four blocks and was a spark plug off the bench for the second straight game.

“It’s great when you have a little bit of pop off your bench,” Mike Budenholzer said. “I love the pop he gives us defensively. How many blocked shots did he have? He covers a lot of ground. He gets some great contests even when he doesn’t make shots. I think he bothers shooters, and he’s really great chasing and staying with guys. He mixes in making some threes and he’s going to the basket and finishing. He and I were laughing that he’s turned into our best power forward with a jump hook. He’s doing a little bit of everything.”

Connaughton has been a huge boost off the bench, especially after the injuries to Malcolm Brogdon and Tony Snell. It will be interesting how Budenholzer figures out the minutes once the Bucks are completely healthy.

What they said:

Bledsoe on going on the road to Detroit

Giannis said it earlier. We took care of business like we should. Now we’re going on the road playing against a tough crowd and a tough team. We’re going to go in, practice, and see what we can do better. We’re looking forward to Game 3 in Detroit.

Casey on the Pistons’ performance tonight

I thought we set the tone in the second quarter. Against a team like Milwaukee you have to do it for a longer period of time. I think we extended it long enough. It showed in the third quarter. They scored 35 points to our 17. It was our Achilles heel tonight. Again, our challenge has been extending hard play, not getting bored with doing fundamentals, not getting bored kicking the ball out, doing those things offensively. Defensively, staying solid and making sure we execute what we need to do. That’s a discipline that has to be at the top of our charts going into next game and next year.

In case you missed it:

*The Bucks took a 2-0 series lead with Wednesday night’s 120-99 win over the Pistons. This is Milwaukee’s first 2-0 lead in a playoff series since it went up 2-0 over Charlotte in the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 2001.

*This is the first time since 1974, and the fourth time in franchise-playoff-history, that Milwaukee has won consecutive playoff games by 20+ points.

*As a team the Bucks shot 52.2% from the field while holding the Pistons to just 37.4% shooting. This marks the 20th occasion in Bucks playoff history where Milwaukee has shot 50% or better while holding its opponent to under 40% shooting. The Bucks are 19-1 in such games.

*The Bucks hauled in 54 rebounds on the night, marking their second consecutive playoff game hauling in 50+ rebounds. This is just the fourth time in franchise-playoff-history that the Bucks have hauled in 50+ rebounds in back-to-back games (most recently in 2001).

*Giannis tallied just his fourth-career playoff game with 25+ points and 10+ rebounds, as he finished the night with 26 points and 12 rebounds.

*Middleton logged his 11th career playoff game with 20+ points as he poured in 24 points and dished out a team-high eight assists.

What’s next?

Two down, two to go as the Bucks will travel to Detroit for game three Saturday night. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00pm.

Bucks’ magic number at one after 131-121 win over Nets

Who would’ve thought before this season started that the best record in the NBA would belong to Milwaukee?

The Bucks’ magic number to clinch the best record in the NBA is down to one with four games to go. Giannis Antetokounmpo returned after missing Sunday’s game in Atlanta to help Milwaukee defeat the Nets in Brooklyn 131-121.

With their next win, or a Toronto Raptors loss, the Bucks will earn home-court advantage throughout the postseason.

Eric Bledsoe came up big dropping a game-high 29 points, five rebounds and seven assists. Giannis got off to a slow start but finished strong with 28 points and 11 rebounds. 14 of his 28 came in the fourth quarter.

D’Angelo Russell scored 28 points and hauled in 10 rebounds for the Nets. Brooklyn’s Caris Levert played a big role as well finishing with 24 points, four boards and six dimes.

Next up, the Bucks (58-20) will play the 76ers (49-28) in Philadelphia on Thursday.

Joe & Ebo Experience: New season. New facial hair.

MVP (0:00)

Rockin’ the soul patch (9:46)

Peter Wilt from Forward Madison FC (14:38)

Kyle Lesniewski from Brew Crew Ball (28:27)

Zone reporter Cody Grant  (39:42)

Cubs hate (53:36)

Bucks 108, Rockets 94: Last Word

MILWAUKEE | The Milwaukee Bucks ran away with a 108-94 win over the Houston Rockets at Fiserv Forum on Tuesday night.

Player of the game: Eric Bledsoe

The narrative heading into Tuesday night’s game was the battle for MVP between Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden. However, it was Bledsoe who was the best player on the floor. He scored a team-high 23 points, knocking down a season-high-tying four three-pointers (4-7, .571). 16 of his 23 came in the third quarter which included a 11-0 run from him alone.

He was even better on the defensive end. Bledsoe stepped up to the challenge defending Harden. He held him in check throughout the game and even blocked him at the rim, twice. Bledsoe talked about his performance against Harden.

Just try to run him off the three-point line. Credit to Giannis and Brook, they did a hell of a job tonight. They were blocking shots when I did get beat. It’s a team effort.

Always a spark plug, Bledsoe has ignited his team time after time this season with his energy and effort. Tuesday night’s game was a microcosm of what he has meant to the Bucks this season.

Play of the game: Bledsteal and smack-talk with Harden

Milwaukee came out a bit sluggish and had no momentum early on. They trailed by as many as 11 points in the second quarter. Their energy picked up after Bledsoe got a big steal and layup off an inbound pass that completely turned the game around. Then he got in the face of last year’s MVP.

The good: Defense

As a team, the Rockets average 113.1 points per game while shooting 44.8% from the field and 35.2% from beyond the arc. The Bucks held them to 94 points on 36.4% shooting and 30.8% from three-point range. The NBA’s leading scorer (36.4) was held to just 23 points. Head coach Mike Budenholzer talked about the impact of Giannis, Bledsoe and Brook Lopez together.

Without a doubt those guys are All-NBA, All-Defense guys. Certainly, we talked a little bit about before the game the focus on James [Harden] and the guy who is guarding him, mostly [Bledsoe]. Then the defense with Brook at the paint and could we be active with a third guy and everyone else. Giannis was a big part of that third prong. There is so much focus on the other two, but I think his activity and ability to cover ground. The three prongs were all working well together.

The not so good: 1st quarter

There wasn’t a whole lot you can look at as not good in Tuesday’s win but offensively the Bucks weren’t sharp in the first quarter. They converted on just eight of their 25 attempts leading to 20 points. The Bucks have been known for slow-starts this season and it’s something they need to work on.

Stat of the game: One

Harden made only one three-pointer on his nine attempts. He averages 4.9 makes a game from downtown. The Bucks defended him perfectly. Bledsoe and George Hill deserve a lot of credit for the way they played him. The game-plan was set up to force Harden to drive with his right hand. Defenders placed themselves on his left side all night and it bothered him. Harden had a lot of difficulty using his patented step back from beyond the arc. He was asked if there were any challenges when the Bucks defended him the way they did.

None. I still got my shots up. I was still aggressive. I still did what I was supposed to do. Obviously, some shots didn’t go in like every other game. As a team, we had our shots that we got. If they go in, it’s a different game. Credit to them. They made shots.

What they said:

Budenholzer on the win

I was just really pleased with the defensive effort, for all four quarters really. Particularly in the second half, it felt like we were really trying to make things as difficult as possible for all the guys on the court. It felt like the guys really put the effort in. There was a lot of effort and activity coming back and getting steals and loose balls and covering lots of ground. That just stands out to me. We had a stretch where we got hot, made some threes, and made some separation. That combined with good four quarters of defense made a good effort tonight.

Giannis on the MVP chant during the game

I definitely noticed that. I heard it. Having the greatest fans in the NBA is awesome. I really appreciate the fans supporting me and supporting the team. Nights like this we try to deliver with a win and give our fans a win. Like I said in the past, I don’t want to think about it.

Rockets’ head coach Mike D’Antoni

We didn’t shoot the ball very well. When James [Harden] and Eric [Gordon] are 2-for-23, we’re going to have a hard time winning games. They played good defense. We got sloppy in the first half. We turned the ball over, I think, four times in transition. There were passes that they capitalized on that’s how they got ahead of us. It’s just one of the games where we just weren’t thinking. We’ll be all right.

In case you missed it:

*The Bucks are now a season-high 37 games over .500 and improve their NBA-best record to 56-19. Milwaukee’s 31-6 home record is also tied with Denver for the best home record in the league.

*Tuesday night’s win secured a 2-0 season series win for the Bucks over the Rockets, marking their first season series sweep of Houston since the 1999-00.

*This is Milwaukee’s 18th series win of the season and its eighth season series sweep of an opponent.

*This was the Bucks’ NBA-high 43rd win of the season by double digits, and their 14th double-digit win over a team with a .500 or better record.

*The Bucks hauled in 60 rebounds as a team, marking their second 60-rebound game of the season. Milwaukee entered the game averaging an NBA-high 49.4 rebounds per game this season.

What’s next?

The Bucks (56-19) will host the red-hot Los Angeles Clippers (45-30) on Thursday night. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00pm.

Deer Milwaukee: March 9, 2019

On this week’s episode of Deer Milwaukee, Cody Grant shared his thoughts on Eric Bledsoe’s contract extension. Plus, Cody talked about what Pau Gasol can bring to the Bucks. Also, Kane Pitman joined the podcast to discuss all the latest with the Bucks over the last week including their big win over the Pacers on Thursday and fan opinions of Khris Middleton.

0:53 | Bledsoe’s contract extension

5:00 | What Gasol brings to Milwaukee

9:57 | Kane Pitman interview

22:21 | Bucks ability to “flip the switch” and run away with games

Last Shots: Magic 103, Bucks 83

MILWAUKEE | 17 last shots for 17% shooting from 3-point range by the Bucks in Milwaukee’s 103-83 loss to the Orlando Magic.

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo sat out the second game of a back-to-back with right knee soreness on Saturday night leaving the Bucks shorthanded.

2. 3-point shooting was hard to come by for Milwaukee. On the season, they shoot 35% from beyond the arc but were just 6-35 (17%) Saturday night.

3. Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez, Malcolm Brogdon, Sterling Brown, D.J. Wilson and Ersan Ilyasova went a combined 0-23 from downtown.

4. Terrance Ross scored 13 points on 5-7 shooting in the second quarter to lead Orlando to a 59-49 halftime lead.

5. NBA All-Star, Middleton was ineffective for most of the night. He failed to reach double-digit scoring until midway through the fourth quarter. Middleton finished with 11 points on 4-17 shooting.

6. “This was a terrible game, but we have been playing well and can’t let this sit on our heads too long,” Middleton said.

7. Eric Bledsoe was a bright spot for Milwaukee. He recorded his sixth double-double of the season as he finished with a game-high 19 points and 11 rebounds.

8. “Like [Budenholzer] said, let’s throw this away. We weren’t playing bad we were just missing shots,” Bledsoe said.

9. Orlando had a strong defensive effort in the second half holding Milwaukee to just 34 points. 83 points is the Bucks’ lowest scoring output of the season.

10. “I thought in the second half we did a lot better job just keeping the ball out of the paint,” Magic Head Coach Steve Clifford said. “Our defense in the second half was really good.”

11. Bucks Head Coach Mike Budenholzer emphasized that his team needs to just move on from a loss like this one.

12. “First, a lot of credit to Orlando. They played well. They shot the ball well. First half, they shot 37 [percent]. Credit to them. They played well. We’ll probably put this one in the trash can and move on.”

13. Budenholzer is on point here and it was good to hear Middleton and Bledsoe echo their coach’s comments. The Bucks are one of the favorites to make it the NBA Finals. It’s an 82-game regular season in the NBA and you can never get too high or too low. Giannis wasn’t on the court. It was the second of a back-to-back after a road game. Games like this happen to every team in the league.

14. Despite the horrendous shooting night, the Bucks have now set a franchise record with 723 3-pointers this season.

15. Milwaukee still owns the best record in the NBA at 41-14 (.745) and have won 12 of their last 14 games.

16. Nikola Mirotic wore a Bucks uniform for the first time this season after being traded to Milwaukee from the New Orleans Pelicans.

17. The Bucks have yet to lose back-to-back games this season. They will be in Chicago Monday night to take on a Bulls team that has lost 10 straight games at home.

Last shots: Celtics 112, Bucks 96

Twenty-three last shots for the 23 points scored by guard Eric Bledsoe in Milwaukee’s 112-96 loss in Game 7 of the first round of the NBA Playoffs to the Boston Celtics.

1. This was a disappointing end to a disappointing season for the Milwaukee Bucks. There’s no other way to put it.

2. The Bucks had aspirations of battling for homecourt advantage in the first round and making a run as deep as the Eastern Conference Finals. Instead, their season ends with a Game 7 loss in the first round to the No. 2 seed Boston Celtics.

3. Make no mistake, the Celtics aren’t one of the typical powerhouse No. 2 seed. Sure, they won 55 games this year, but once the playoffs rolled around Boston was without several key players. Kyrie Irving and Daniel Theis both missed the entire series, Marcus Smart missed the first four games, Jaylen Brown missed the second half of Game 7, and Gordon Heyward missed the entire season.

4. The Celtics still found a way to beat the Bucks four times despite Milwaukee being the team at full-strength.

5. No. 7 seeds aren’t typically expected to advance in the NBA Playoffs. This one was.

6. In a game that could have been an early career-defining moment for all-star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, it wasn’t. He wasn’t bad, but it certainly wasn’t the performance needed from a player knocking on the door of the NBA’s elite.

7. Antetokounmpo finished with 22 points, nine rebounds, five assists, and four turnovers. He was far from spectacular. Antetokounmpo wasn’t the best player on the floor, and the Bucks cannot win when that’s the case. Khris Middleton, Al Horford, Terry Rozier, and arguably Eric Bledsoe were better than him.

8. Middleton continued his strong play, finishing with a game-high 32 points on 11-of-18 shooting. He had an incredible series and was certainly Milwaukee’s most consistent player. Bledsoe also saved his best game of the series – by far – for Game 7. He had 23 points on 9-of-12 shooting in the loss.

9. Even with Bledsoe playing well, he was still outplayed by Rozier, who finished with a playoff-career-high 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting and nine assists. Horford also had 26 points for Boston on 13-of-17 shooting.

10. The Bucks needed an effort from Antetokounmpo similar to the one they received in Game 6. On that night Antetokounmpo was undoubtedly the best player on the floor. He was the reason that the Bucks were able to force a Game 7, he was also part of the reason that Milwaukee’s season is now over.

11. Milwaukee now enters an offseason filled with uncertainty. The Bucks do not have a head coach, as it’s extremely unlikely that interim coach Joe Prunty will be retained to lead the team, and they’ll have to make a decision on Jabari Parker’s future.

12. Prunty will likely be given an opportunity to interview for the job opening, but the Bucks would be foolish to retain him moving forward. This job, due to the opportunity to coach Antetokounmpo, will be one of the more sought-after positions in the NBA for this coaching cycle.

13. That’s not to say Milwaukee will be able to pick any coach out there. With the Bucks lasting two weeks into the playoffs, every other team with a coaching vacancy has a head start on the search. For instance, the New York Knicks have reportedly interviewed 10 candidates already. Hiring the right coach will certainly help the Bucks move closer to owning the future that has been talked about so often. But that alone will not do it. There have been poor personnel decisions that have factored into the Bucks struggling, not just the coaching of Prunty and Jason Kidd before him.

14. Milwaukee has nearly $50 million tied up next season between Eric Bledsoe, John Henson, Matthew Dellavedova, Tony Snell, and Mirza Teletovic. Add in the dead money the team has from the Larry Sanders and Spencer Hawes situations and that number is over $50 million.

15. This is all before factoring in the Parker situation. He now enters restricted free agency after turning down Milwaukee’s contract extension offer prior to the season.

16. At times, Parker has been a very productive player for Milwaukee. Those times haven’t been frequent enough, and frankly, there are too many deficiencies in his game for him to be a max-level player. Add in his injured plagued history and he’s not a player that can be counted on with that type of financial commitment.

17. The likely scenario is that Parker will be given an offer sheet by another team and the Bucks will have an opportunity to match it. Matching it may push the Bucks further into financial distress as they wait for the contracts handed out to Henson, Dellavedova, and Snell to run out.

18. Not matching it would mean letting a talented player walk out the door with no compensation while the team is attempting to enter a window of contention.

19. The other question the Bucks need to ask this offseason is how serious the future is they’re trying to own. Yes, Antetokounmpo’s future is bright, and yes, Middleton is a very underrated player alongside him.

20. With that being said, where do the Bucks sit in the pecking order of the Eastern Conference? There’s uncertainty surrounding Cleveland with the future of LeBron James, yes. But the Celtics just knocked the Bucks off without their two best players, the Philadelphia 76ers are currently better than the Bucks — despite being younger – and are only going to be getting better while maintaining financial flexibility, and the Toronto Raptors do not look like they’re going anywhere soon, either.

21. And that’s only the Eastern Conference.

22. It’s hard to call this season anything but a failure for Milwaukee. And no matter what Antetokounmpo says about his future in Milwaukee, the clock is ticking for the Bucks.

23. Right now, it’s certainly difficult to see the Bucks owning the future.

Last shots: Bucks 116, Celtics 92

MILWAUKEE – Twenty-four last shots for the 24 minutes played by Bucks center Thon Maker in Milwaukee’s 116-92 win over the Boston Celtics in Game 3 of the first round of the NBA Playoffs.

1. The widely used cliché around the NBA is that role players preform at a higher level when they play at home, especially in the playoffs.

2. That could not have been more accurate on Friday night for the Milwaukee Bucks. Thon Maker, Matthew Dellavedova, Jabari Parker, and Eric Bledsoe looked like entirely different players inside the friendly confines of the BMO Harris Bradley Center than they did inside the TD Garden.

3. Dellavedova and Maker combined for 5:34 of time on the floor in the first two games of the series. Both players did not leave the bench in Game 1. Dellavedova saw 4:34 in Game 2, with 3:34 coming while the outcome was still in doubt. Maker checked in during Game 2 with 1:00 left on the clock and the Celtics holding a 118-104 lead.

4. On Friday night, those two were two of the first three players off the bench for Milwaukee with Parker being the other. All three had positive impacts that they had not had in Boston.

5. In fact, Parker complained to the media that he didn’t feel he was getting enough playing time in the first two games. He had played just under 25 minutes in those two games combined. Friday he was on the floor for 30. Parker had been unable to find a rhythm offensively and was a liability defensively in Boston.

6. In Milwaukee, Parker was a force offensively and serviceable defensively. He finished with 17 points on 7-of-12 from the floor. He also collected five rebounds, a pair of assists, a steal, and two blocks. It’s only been three games, but this was by far the best performance of his playoff career.

7. The effort Parker gave the Bucks in the win was one that Milwaukee needs him to replicate in order to climb back, and ultimately win the series. The Bucks won’t be able to count on the stat line Maker produced, but they should be able to count on Parkers.

8. Maker finished with 14 points on 3-of-5 shooting, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range. He was a force defensively, blocking five shots, and altering a handful of others. Maker has largely been a disappointment this season, but Friday night was a glimpse into the player Milwaukee believes he can be.

9. One person that has always believed in Maker has been all-star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo. There have been times where Antetokounmpo has drawn criticism from fans for his belief in Maker despite his struggles.

10. “It means a lot,” Antetokounmpo said of Maker’s big game. “Thon for me is like a little brother. We had a conversation earlier – two weeks ago – and I told him that he has to bring that killer mentality back. [Maker] was hungry and tonight he showed that he wants it. He did a great job coming in and gave everybody energy. He blocked shots, he made shots, running beating guys. I am proud of him. Hopefully he can bring it all into Game 4 because we definitely need this guy.”

11. And to think, if not for center John Henson’s back injury, Maker likely would not have seen nearly this much meaningful action. Henson was inactive, forcing Tyler Zeller into the starting lineup, and Maker into the rotation.

12. “Tonight specifically, it was not only the blocks and energy, but he hit some big shots,” interim coach Joe Prunty said of Maker following the game. “He had a big three from the right wing and made a lot of plays on both sides of the ball that are critical to winning the game.”

13. As for Dellavedova, his stat line was nothing out of the ordinary. He knocked down both shots he attempted, finishing with five points in 16 minutes. What he was able to provide to the Bucks was an annoyance to Celtics guard Terry Rozier. Rozier had torched the Bucks in both games in Boston but was quiet in Game 3.

14. That’s what Dellavedova’s game is. He’s not going to go out and score 15 or more points for the Bucks very often, but he is going to be someone that can bother opposing backcourts with his pestering defense. He routine would defend Rozier for all 94 feet of the court, making him earn everything he got.

15. “I’ve been riding the bike for two months, so I can pick up full court for as long as they need me to,” Dellavedova said. He had missed nearly the last two months of the season due to an ankle injury, playing in only the final regular season game before the playoffs.

16. Dellavedova was a big boost to the back court for the Bucks, but Bledsoe’s play was also something that Milwaukee had not had in the first two games. In Boston he was inefficient, careless with the basketball, and outplayed by a backup whom he refused to acknowledge.

17. Friday night he was the player Milwaukee had hoped to see on a nightly basis when the trade was made for him early in the season. He had 17 points on an efficient 8-of-13 shooting from the floor. For the first time in the series, he outplayed Rozier.

18. In the second quarter Bledsoe scored in transition with Rozier the lone player back defending to put Milwaukee up by 21. Bledsoe flexed and smacked his biceps muscle on his way back down the floor. Make no mistake, he won’t acknowledge who Rozier is publicly, but he knew exactly who he had scored on. There’s no doubt about that.

19. The first two games saw the offensive load carried by Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton for Milwaukee. They were the two leading scorers for Milwaukee once again, but they certainly didn’t need to do as much this time around.

20. Middleton was the game’s high scorer with 23 points on 10-of-17 shooting. Antetokounmpo had 19 points on 8-of-13 from the floor in only 27 minutes.

21. The low total of minutes for Antetokounmpo could come as a benefit for the Bucks on Sunday. Even with a day off between games, the turnaround is rather short between Games 3 and 4. The 8:30 p.m. CT start on Friday paired with a noon CT start on Sunday means that this set of games will have less time between contests than most in the playoffs.

22. Antetokounmpo checked out after picking up his fifth foul with 10:22 remaining in the game and the Bucks holding a 90-70 lead. He never needed to re-enter, making that foul call by official Scott Foster a blessing in disguise for the Bucks.

23. “We realized how important this game was,” Antetokounmpo said afterwards. “I think everyone brought their ‘A’ game, they brought their energy. Game 2 we didn’t do a good job rebounding the ball or taking care of the ball. I think we did a great job of doing that [tonight]. It takes effort to rebound so I think everybody brought effort and hopefully we can carry that on to Game 4.”

24. Game 4 is Sunday at noon CT at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Friday night’s win ensured that the series will head back to Boston for a Game 5 at the very least. A win on Sunday would force a Game 6 at the Bradley Center. A loss in Game 4 could potentially mean the Bucks will never play inside the building again. Talk to you then.