A few minutes into Game 1 between the Milwaukee Bucks and Detroit Pistons, Giannis Antetokounmpo took off on the fastbreak, weaved his way past the barrier and scooped home an and-one layup off the glass. Beating his chest in festivity a couple of moments later, the camera found him broadcasting, “I’m f—— unstoppable.”
That he was, completing with 24 points, 17 bounce back and four assists only 23 minutes. So too were the Bucks, who destroyed the visiting Pistons, 121-86 to take a 1-0 lead in the series. On the off chance that it were conceivable to win a seven-game series in only one game, the Bucks, who led by 43 at a certain point, cultivated as much on Sunday evening. What’s more, all the while, created an impression to the rest of the Eastern Conference.
After two of different contenders in the East, the Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers, opened up their first-round series by losing at home to bring down seeded-groups on Saturday, the Bucks ensured there would be no disturbed occurring at Fiserv Forum. Just four minutes in, they were at that point up 20-4, and they never thought back. It was the kind of performance that solidified their status as the group to beat in the East, and filled in as a wake-up call to casual fans who may not have been paying attention throughout the regular season: the Bucks are a certified problem.
Obviously however, the Bucks’ star man wasn’t keen on giving anybody bulletin board material after the amusement. “I think we did a great job setting the tone, playing hard together,” Giannis said when he arrived at the podium. “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.” But for as much as Giannis and the Bucks prefer to downplay their achievements, there was no denying their dominance in Game 1.
In the event that Blake Griffin’s nonattendance was certainly not a notice that the Pistons were in a bad position in this game, Dwane Casey’s choice on edge end mid-path through the first quarter positively was. Effectively somewhere near twofold digits, the Pistons accomplished something they haven’t done all season – they switched to a zone defense. It didn’t work, of course; nothing they tried throughout the night could slow down the Bucks’ attack. Not even their attempts to be physical with the potential MVP on the other side.
Thon Maker, a previous Giannis protege, had a hard foul on his old teammate audited, yet it remained a common foul. Later on, however, Andre Drummond wasn’t so fortunate. The enormous man was shot out in the third quarter after chucking the Greek Freak while he was in mid-air. Drummond finished an atrocious minus-45 in 26 minutes. Even Blake Griffin, who wasn’t actually playing, took things too far and was called for a technical from the bench during the Drummond review.
“They’re a great team,” Casey said after the loss. “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 a great team… 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.”
With Giannis driving the way, the Bucks did anything they desired in all out attack mode end, scoring everything except four of their baskets either in the paint or behind the 3-point line. Furthermore, on edge end, they goaded the Pistons into unreasonably numerous mid-range shots, while Brook Lopez allowed nothing at the rim.
“It was great,” Khris Middleton said of the Bucks’ defensive performance. “I think we were physical without fouling, Brook [Lopez] did a great job contesting the rim, rebounding, and taking Andre Drummond off the glass. I think as a group we all had each other’s backs. Everybody did their job.”
While Casey is right about the Pistons expecting to expand their power and center pushing ahead, it’s probably not going to matter. As they discovered on Sunday, they aren’t good enough to compete in this series, even if Griffin is on the court. Not many teams in the East are.
This Bucks group is “special,” as Lopez put it in the locker room after the game. And as they made clear against the Pistons, they aren’t messing around. Forget winning their first playoff series since 2001, the Bucks just might be “f—— unstoppable.”