Detroit Pistons star Blake Griffin made his return to the lineup on Saturday afternoon in the Motor City — a welcome sign for Pistons fans who are still looking for their first postseason win.
Griffin’s return, though, simply wasn’t enough.
The Pistons fell to the Milwaukee Bucks 119-103 at Little Ceasars Arena, marking their 13th-straight playoff loss, tied for the most in NBA playoff history.
While the Pistons jumped out of the gate hot, mounting several small leads in the opening minutes, their success didn’t last long. The Bucks — despite a scoreless opening period from Giannis Antetokounmpo, which was just his second all season — closed the quarter on a 13-2 run and never looked back, cruising to the 16-point win and the commanding 3-0 series lead.
Khris Middleton led the Bucks with 20 points and nine rebounds. Eric Bledsoe and Brook Lopez each dropped 19 points, and Ersan Ilyasova added 15 off the bench. Antetokounmpo finished with a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
While the focus all year has been on Antetokounmpo, and rightfully so, Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said it was the team effort that shined on Saturday — and that’s what can make the difference for them this season.
“I think it’s something we’ve been trying to build all year,” Budenholzer said. “We’re a team that plays together, trying to take what the defense gives us. Guys have opportunities, guys have a lot of confidence to make plays. It’s not just all about Giannis, as amazing and great as he is.”
Griffin was doubtful to play at all this weekend while recovering from a left knee injury he sustained at the end of the regular season. It was a rough stretch for the Pistons without their All-Star — who averaged 24.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.4 assists this year — too, as they fell in their first two games by 35 points and 21 points, respectively.
Griffin seemingly didn’t miss a beat on Saturday, leading the Pistons with 27 points and seven rebounds. Reggie Jackson added 15 points, and Wayne Ellington finished with 13 points.
Game 4 of the series will take place on Monday night in Detroit, where the Bucks can grab their first playoff series win since 2001.
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