The Milwaukee Bucks are great.
The Detroit Pistons are bad.
Traveling home from Paris was hard.
Killian Hayes and Isaiah Stewart were hurt.
But the Pistons’ early effort in their 150-130 shellacking on Monday was unacceptable.
There’s only one place to begin: the beginning of this god forsaken game.
The Pistons, playing for the first time since their loss to the Bulls in Paris last week, were out of it before the midway point of the first quarter. They trailed Milwaukee by 20 points five minutes in, and 30-plus points at various points in the first half.
Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 20 of his 29 points in that opening quarter, helping to bury Detroit before they even had a chance to get their sea legs.
The Pistons really weren’t that horrendous after — offensively, at least. They outscored the Bucks in the latter half of the second quarter and then again in the third quarter... but when you trail by 25 points after the first quarter, you’ve kind of dug your own grave.
The Bucks just filled it in with dirt.
Being without Hayes and Stewart hurt, but even if they played, it wasn’t really going to change the early tenor of this game. The Pistons just came out with zero energy and had zero focus on the defensive end; par for the course when you consider this is the worst defensive team in the defense-minded history of the franchise.
Detroit has allowed an opponent to score 145 or more points five times since 1985. Two of those games have come in the past two weeks — tonight and Jan. 10 in Philly.
Tonight, they were the damsel in distress tied to the railroad tracks and Giannis was the oncoming train. Only they tied themselves to the tracks thanks to their defensive effort.
I will say this: He didn’t help at all on the defensive end tonight, but Bojan Bogdanovic was an absolute flamethrower. He scored an easy 33 points on 11-of-15 shooting, knocking down 6-of-7 triples.
DEAR CONTENDERS: THIS MAN IS A WALKING BUCKET AND CAN HELP YOU WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP! TRADE GOOD THINGS FOR HIM BEFORE FEB. 9, 2023!
A few of the starters put up good box score stats despite being guilty for the first quarter disaster that saw Milwaukee score 49 points. Jaden Ivey had a double-double with 12 points and 11 assists, flashing some nice playmaking chops with Killian out.
That’s not really surprising. He seems to play better when he knows his role. Sometimes, I wonder if Dwane Casey notices that.
The other rookie, Jalen Duren was super productive, albeit much of that production came in the latter half of the fourth against the Bucks scrubs. Still, he played well and finished with with a career-best 23 points and 14 rebounds, vacuuming in rebounds and dunking the living hell out of everything he touched.
Saddiq Bey also feasted against the de-facto Wisconsin Herd, scoring an empty 21 points. Finally, Isaiah Livers, bless his heart, he gave a damn on defense. He also hit a few threes on his way to 9 points.
It was a terrible game, but the rookies playing well makes it... less. Not much, but less.
As always, let us know what you thought in the comments!