Blake Griffin was back in the lineup but it didn’t matter. The Bucks flexed in Game 3 and pushed the Pistons to the brink of elimination.
Blake Griffin was back in the Pistons lineup for the first time in these playoffs. He reminded Detroit would they’d been missing, dominating the ball and putting up a monster 27-point, 7-rebound, 6-assist, 2-steal line. But the Pistons were still outscored by three points in the 30 minutes he was on the floor and Detroit was never closer to victory than the five-point lead they held two minutes into the first quarter. They eventually trailed by as much as 24 and never really threatened Milwaukee in any meaningful way.
That’s just how it goes when you’re playing the best team in the Eastern Conference this season.
Eric Bledsoe is up for this postseason run. In last year’s playoffs, he was something of a disappointment, averaging 13.6 points, 3.7 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game, shooting 44.0 percent from the field. Through three games against Detroit, he’s averaging 20.3 points, 5.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game, shooting 51.0 percent from the field. He’s been terrific for Milwaukee all season, seemingly determined to atone for all the ways in which he turned out not to be the missing piece last year. He’s got more work to do but his play is certainly speaking loudly and clearly.
Andre Drummond, ugh. Drummond was in the midst of a career renaissance last season, being reinvented as an offensive fulcrum at the elbows with his passing and dribble hand-offs. Then the Pistons traded for Griffin, who largely occupies the same offensive space, and Drummond’s reinvention became a recession. Watching him teeter on irrelevancy in this series, even when Griffin wasn’t on the floor, has been depressing. Detroit was outscored by 85 points in the 94 minutes he was on the floor in the series. He’s made 17-of-38 from the field and has 9 turnovers to 6 assists. His rebounding will always be an asset but he just offers so little on the offensive end and hasn’t turned into a game-changing defensive force. Drummond is just 25 but the future isn’t exactly looking bright.
Milwaukee is still deep. It’s been a story in every game of this series and tonight was no exception. Giannis Antetokounmpo had just 13 shot attempts. Four different Bucks scored more than he did. Three different Bucks had more assists. They still won by 16.