Giannis “Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo unleashed 41 points in Game 4 of the opening round of the Eastern Conference playoffs to lead the Milwaukee Bucks to a 127-104 win over the Detroit Pistons to complete a four-game sweep.
The Pistons were fighting for a playoff spot the last few weeks of the regular season. They finished 41-41 and locked up the last seed with the final game of the season. However, once the postseason began, the Pistons were out of gas and nursing injuries against the top-seeded Bucks (60-22).
Blake Griffin, the Pistons leading scorer, missed the first two games of the playoffs with a sore knee. Griffin returned in game 3 and scored 27 points. He posted 22 points during a valiant effort in Game 4, but Griffin could not stop the Freak and the Bucks from pulling off the opening-round sweep.
“Blake played his heart out with basically one leg,” said Detroit Pistons head coach Dwane Casey. “He fought through a lot of pain, swelling.”
Reggie Jackson led the Pistons with 26 points in a losing effort. Big man Andre Drummond scored 15 points and hauled down 13 rebounds, but he couldn’t stop the Greek Freak. No one could.
Antetokounmpo saved his best game for Game 4. He averaged only 21.3 points in the first three games, which was slightly off his season average of 27.7 ppg. However, the Bucks let the Greek Freak run wild and he destroyed the Pistons. When the final buzzer sounded, the Freak tallied 41 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 blocks, and one steal.
Antetokounmpo connected on 12-for-23 shots from the floor, including 15-for-20 from the free throw line. The Freak’s three-point shooting is the weakest aspect of his overall game, but he managed to shoot 2-for-6 from downtown.
The Greek Freak has come a long way since his first taste of playoff basketball back in 2015.
“I remember our first playoff series,” Antetokounmpo said. “Chicago, the last game, Game 6, they beat us by 50 or something insane. But where we were and where we are right now, it’s been an unbelievable journey.”
Khris Middleton contributed 18 points and veteran Eric Bledsode added 16 points, 5 assists, and 2 steals.
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) April 23, 2019
On Deck: Bucks vs. Celtics
The Boston Celtics knocked the Milwaukee Bucks out of the playoffs last season. The Celtics held off the pesky Bucks in seven games. This time around, Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward are both healthy for the Celtics. But now the Celtics find themselves as the underdogs trying to usurp the top-seeded Bucks.
This postseason, the Boston Celtics swept the Indiana Pacers in the first round. Sure, the Pacers managed to stay competitive in the regular season without All-Star Victor Oladipo. However, the Pacers sorely missed Oladipo’s scoring ability in the playoffs. Hence, the sweep. The Pacers struggled to score in the second half against the Celtics stifling defense.
Now that the Celtics are back on track and locked in, the next round series should be fun to watch. The Greek Freak scored at ease against the Pistons. Brad Stevens and company will have to figure out a game plan to stop the Greek Freak and the Bucks.
The Bucks might still be without their starting point guard Malcolm Brogdon, who has been out since mid-March with a plantar fascia tear in his foot. Sterling Brown played well as Brogdon’s replacement in the opening round. However, the Bucks will need all the help they can get to keep Kyrie Irving in check.
According to the South Point Casino and Sports Book in Las Vegas, the Celtics are 20/1 odds to win the NBA championship. The Milwaukee Bucks are the favorites out of the Eastern Conference with 3/1 odds to win the NBA title.