Game Recap/Notes: Game 2. Pistons 99 - Bucks 120. (Bucks lead 2-0)

Tough loss and really highlights how it be sometimes. The Pistons mostly played pretty well, I liked a lot of the adjustments that they made but the Bucks are just so good that it didn’t even matter in the end.

Box score.

Reggie Jackson:

Good game for Reggie, 18 points on as many equivalents with 8 assists against just 1 turnover. He had some defensive issues but so did every other perimeter guy the Bucks are just such a terrible matchup for them. The main thing was that Reggie did a good job of being aggressive in the pick and roll, he hit several floaters which forced Brook Lopez into playing defense a step further out which bothered him. Also did a great job of taking care of the ball against a team with so much length that it is difficult to do that. Given that he played so well its pretty astounding that Casey stuck with Ish Smith for so long in the 4th quarter.

Wayne Ellington:

Totally bombed for the second straight game. 8 points on 10 shots with a pair of assists, he did make a couple of nice passes early but the Bucks are really running him off the 3 point line hard and he just isn’t good enough as a driver to do any real damage from there. And while he continues to mostly put forth good defensive effort, he just isn’t up to the task of holding Khris Middleton.

Luke Kennard:

Got the start and looked pretty good. 19 points on 14 shot equivalents with a pair of assists and 4 rebounds. He didn’t get featured as much in the offense but he picked his spots well. One of my favorite things that Dwane Casey did in this game is there was a stretch where they just put Luke on Brook Lopez and it actually worked, they should continue to be daring with putting wings on him, especially since Luke has actually got decent strength.

At this point Kennard has been their best offensive player in the series, and him balling in a playoff series against the best team in basketball is a cool thing that hopefully continues.

Thon Maker:

Wasn’t as bad as last time out although it’d be had not to be. Finished with 6 points on 9 shots and he missed each of his long-guns once again. Also committed a few poor fouls. But he did have a few nice defensive plays including a pair of blocks, didn’t get totally run over by Giannis each possession (although still did poorly) and finished a couple of looks inside. He was bad, but at least he improved on his last time out.

Andre Drummond:

Once again he pretty much did what he could. Played 38 minutes, had 18 points 17 shot equivalents with 16 rebounds, a pair of assists and a pair of blocks. He was the primary defender of Giannis from the get go and did a really good job on him. The issue is that they haven’t schemed to play that way and every non-Bruce guy on the floor is a minus defender. So they allow switches when they don’t always need too and when Andre is on a shooter (which when Giannis wasn’t on the floor he often was) it was a conga line to the rim because none of the perimeter guys can stay in front of anyone.

One thing, is that if Andre is going to be the primary defender on Giannis they should probably just punt on offensive rebounding. It’s tough but kind of what needs to happen. When Andre is crashing the glass it gives Giannis chances to run out in transition and get bad mismatches on him. Andre did a really good job of hustling back after crashing but if he starts off behind Giannis he will have trouble catching up no matter how hard he runs. If the Pistons had anyone else who had shown any ability to hold Giannis I’d live with letting Andre crash the class and having the other guy take him on possessions where Giannis beats him back down the floor, but they don’t.

Also, if you looked at Andre’s +/- and think he’s the issue don’t even comment here. You are beyond help.

Langston Galloway:

Played 31 minutes, had 9 points on 7 shots which is fine. He joined in the rest of the perimeter guys in being pretty poor on defense but he did have a couple of nice swipes during their run in the second quarter. He was mostly fine in the end.

Ish Smith:

7 points on 14 shot equivalents with 5 assists against 1 turnover just ain’t it. His lack of size is a really significant issue in this matchup as well. Once again I’m highly confused as to why he got so much run in the second half when Jackson was really playing well. Just not a god game for Ish.

Bruce Brown:

Off the bench but still played his normal 17 minutes and was shot out of a cannon. Sometimes the aggressive athleticism gets fully channeled into something really special and it’s a preview of what he could become in a couple of years. Finished with 5 points on 4 shots with a pair of steals and a block, he was everywhere swiping and generally being a problem for the Bucks. He even hit a 3!

Glenn Robinson:

Thon may be bad but Robinson hasn’t been much better. 9 points on 11 shot equivalents including 1-6 from deep and 4 rebounds. Like Thon he had a couple of nice moments, an offensive rebound and a couple of nice cuts, but overall he’s just not much good.

Dwane Casey:

I actually thought he did pretty well with adjustments! Which is kind of crazy to consider given his history but still. Andre started the game as the primary guy on Giannis, they were not as quick to settle for mid-range shots, they were better about hustling back in transition defense and actually attempted to draw some charges on Giannis, he put wings on Brook Lopez at times, the bench unit that did well didn’t get rode for too long, I’m not sure that starting Luke actually makes much difference (him and Bruce are playing the same number of minutes either way) but he at least tried something. I still have no clue why he decided to leave Ish in the game for so long in the 4th quarter, but hey, baby steps. I feel like the Bucks 3rd quarter run wasn’t really the result of any bad schematic stuff, the Bucks just turned it up to 11 on defense and Giannis got super aggressive. It’s the issue with playing a team as good as the Bucks, if you slip up in your execution for even a little bit while they are on the game is over.