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Bucks make a strong statement in Game 1 victory over Pistons

Statements don’t get much more emphatic.

The Milwaukee Bucks delivered a resounding message in their playoff opener, hammering the Detroit Pistons by a 121-86 margin in Game 1 of their NBA playoff series Sunday evening at Fiserv Forum.

The Bucks built a 13-2 lead right out of the gate, led by a 38-18 margin after a quarter and expanded the margin to as much as 43 in the fourth quarter.

Frustration set in quickly for the Pistons, and former Buck Thon Maker earned a replay review to see if his hard third-quarter foul on Giannis Antetokounmpo was a flagrant one. Officials decided no on that instance, but a blatant push by Pistons center Andre Drummond — again on Antetokounmpo — earned a Flagrant 3 ruling and an ejection with 4:07 left in the third.

Antetokounmpo frustrated the Pistons from the start, scoring two 3-point plays in the opening 2:05 of the game. He finished with 24 points and 17 rebounds in just 23 minutes.

George Hill added 16 off the bench, Eric Bledsoe chipped in 15 points, and Brook Lopez and Khris Middleton had 14 each. Sterling Brown, starting in place of Malcolm Brogdon, added 11 points and a team-high seven assists. Lopez posted a game-high four blocks.

The Bucks simply dominated from start to finish.

Luke Kennard led the frustrated Pistons with 21 points, as they played without sore-kneed star Blake Griffin.

The Bucks made 15 of 43 3-pointers, with Lopez making a couple in the early going to set a strong tone against Detroit’s zone defense. Meanwhile, the Bucks also owned the defensive end, holding Detroit to 38% shooting (35 of 92). Maker, the former Bucks first-round pick who requested a trade to get more playing time, made just 2 of 10 shots and went 0 for 6 on 3-pointers.

Nikola Mirotic returned to the Bucks lineup after missing 11 games with a fractured left thumb. He played 15 minutes and went 2 for 8, 0 for 5 on 3-pointers.

Pat Connaughton also made a strong contribution off the bench, posting 10 points and eight rebounds in 28 minutes.

Game 2 is set for Wednesday. The Pistons will fly home and practice in Detroit Monday and Tuesday before flying back to Milwaukee Tuesday evening.

Griffin’s status for Game 2 will be determined during those two practices and the pre-game Wednesday. He averaged 24.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.3 assists in 75 games in the regular season.

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