The top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks enjoyed a dominant regular season and they've been perfect so far in the playoffs. On Monday night, they pulled away from the Detroit Pistons in the second half of Game 4 to secure a 127-104 blowout win, and with it a 4-0 sweep in their first-round series. With the Pistons now behind them, Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks will now set their sights on the Boston Celtics as their Eastern Conference semifinals series will start in the coming days.
Like he has done all season, Antetokounmpo delivered when it mattered the most for the Bucks as he poured in 41 points to go along with nine rebounds, four blocks, three assists and one steal to help lead his team to the sweep.
The Celtics beat the Bucks, 4-3 in the first round of the playoffs last season, with the home team winning every game so it goes without saying that Milwaukee will enter this series hoping to avenge the loss they suffered this past postseason.
Playoff series results (Bucks win series 4-0)
- Game 1 (at MIL): Bucks 121, Pistons 86 (Box Score)
- Game 2 (at MIL): Bucks 120, Pistons 99 (Box Score)
- Game 3 (at DET): Bucks 119, Pistons 103 (Box Score)
- Game 4 (at DET): Bucks 127, Pistons 104 (Box Score)
Odds and Analysis
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Bucks: Milwaukee has a chance to cap off a dominant season with an NBA Finals appearance -- maybe even a title -- and Antetokounmpo can put together a signature playoff run to cement his position as a true NBA superstar (he might have an MVP trophy to go with it at the end of the postseason). The Bucks were a historically good team in terms of net rating and margin of victory, so it's hard to see them having any trouble with a hobbled and thin Pistons roster. Expect the Bucks to come in focused and look to establish themselves early.
Pistons: The main goal in Detroit this season was to make the playoffs, and they've accomplished that. Nobody's expecting much from them in the first round, particularly with a banged-up Griffin, so they should play free and loose, and could end up taking a game from the Bucks because of it. The big storyline is Griffin -- even with him they have a slim chance, but with him questionable for Game 1, this could have sweep written all over it.
Matchups to watch
1. Blake Griffin vs. Giannis Antetokounmpo: For Detroit's sake, let's hope that Griffin can get back to himself for the majority of the series. But even so, he's going to be met with a host of defenders ready to lock him down. Antetokounmpo is a Defensive Player of the Year candidate and never shies away from a challenge, so he should guard Griffin for at least portions of most games. That will be must-watch TV as one of the league's best and most versatile offensive players takes on the Greek Freak.
2. Brook Lopez vs. Andre Drummond: Lopez has reinvented himself as a 3-point specialist and took it to new heights this season. He rarely goes into the paint on offense, so it will be interesting to see what Detroit does with Andre Drummond. They need his size to help protect the rim, but he'll also have to run out on Lopez to contest his 3s well behind the line.
3. Mike Budenholzer vs. Dwane Casey: Budenholzer is a favorite to win Coach of the Year, and Casey currently holds the honor, winning for his work with the Raptors last season (which ironically got him fired). The only way the Pistons will have a chance in this series is for them to somehow slow down Antetokounmpo, so it will be interesting to watch the game plan Casey devises. On the other side, Budenholzer will have to contend with Griffin and Drummond, while accounting for shooters like Wayne Ellington and Luke Kennard.
Series prediction, pick
Bucks in four: Sorry Pistons fans -- not happening. The Bucks are too loaded, even without Malcolm Brogdon, and Griffin's health issues make it hard to imagine Detroit will be able to take a game off the NBA's best regular-season team.