Milwaukee 96, Detroit 105

 

3 things

 

1. The Pistons continued their fortuitous start to the season by getting a quality win over the Milwaukee Bucks. Full disclosure, there isn’t much in the way of boxscore candy here but this was a hard fought win that displayed how good this team is when they are in sync and really showed off their defensive chops. Andre Drummond was the high man for the Motor City Ballers tonight with 24 and 15 with 2 blocks.

While the are good enough what makes this really impressive is how the JV AD came about his 24 points. He went 14 of 16 from the free throw line good for 87% on the night. Now, for those familiar with Detroit Dre’ you’ll know that he has been perennially amongst the worse (and sometimes has been THE worst) foul shooter in the league with a 38% mark for his career. However, he is shooting 70% in this young season and if this becomes the norm it will give the Pistons a much needed boost offensively and will allow Drummond to see the floor in late game situations.

 

2. Avery Bradley chipped in 23 points and got 3 steals providing the top notch two way play we’ve come to expect. Reggie Jackson and Ish Smith manned the point with dueling approaches as Reggie tossed 8 assists despite his shot being…….well……..there were two airballs involved and Smith scored 10 on 5 of 6 shooting using his speed to get to the rack with ease. Tobias Harris fought his way to 13 points while nailing 3 of his 6 shots from beyond the arc.

This may sound crazy but I’m about to applaud the defensive performance of a team that “held” someone to 29 points but here we are. The almost full team effort that held Giannis “Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo under his season average of 31 may have not been effective in terms of holding him to 10 points but it was instrumental in keeping Freak uncomfortable enough to take bad shots (jumpers), become a hesitant passer (3 assists to go with 3 turnovers) and possibly most important was a constant disruption in their transition offense where the Freak feasts. Stanley Johnson, Eric Moreland and Anthony Tolliver especially did a great job in harassing Giannis especially in help defense and switching. Drummond kept him off of the boards and Bradley along with the rest of the backcourt picked and picked and picked at him. It was one of the most impressive displays of team defense I’ve seen in quite some time.

 

3. Good defense or not Giannis went for 29 and 4 blocks on 13 of 27 shooting. But as they both know, this wasn’t about holding him scoreless it was about preventing him from taking control of the game. And in that they were successful. Malcolm Brogdon who continues to improve by the day went for 21 points and 10 assists while Khris Middleton had a solid night on a line of 16-5-7. Snell rounded out the double figure scorers with 12. The Bucks were outscored on the bench 28-14.

Milwaukee just didn’t play their game. It happens, but it doesn’t feel good. But what can be taken from this is that there needs to be a gameplan around getting other guys involved when Giannis is (relatively) locked up.

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