"It's about pride," says coach Dwane Casey of Pistons' 3-0 hole against Bucks on April 21, 2019.
Vince Ellis, Detroit Free Press
The Detroit Pistons season ended on Monday night with another blowout loss. The score was ugly.
Milwaukee won the first round of the first round with 127-104. And the score never lies.
But it does not tell the whole story.
Pistons Striker Blake Griffin kicks off Bucks striker Giannis Antetokounmpo in the first half of Game 4 of the playoff series at the Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Monday, April 22, 2019. (Photo: Junfu Han, Detroit Free Press)
Yes, the pistons were swept. Yes, they have lost every game in double digits. Yes, they are far from the top of the Eastern Conference and the Milwaukee Bucks.
But then you knew it all.
What you did not know is whether this team would win 3-0 in the series against a much better team.
Is that important?
Yes, that's right.
It's important for Blake Griffin, who played the best basketball of his life this season, before a knee injury slowed him in recent weeks. That's why he was out there on Monday night, head down, attacking the rim of a coccyx, hurling his body at Milwaukee's length and size and dropping it after 22 points.
In his last game of the year he had a penalty kick seven minutes from time. And when he sat on the Pistons bench in the Little Caesars Arena on Monday night, the crowd shouted, "MVP! MVP!
He received the Chants.
It's important to Andre Drummond who heard the Boos on Saturday night, when he let his frustration over the offensive end of his defense and I influence him wants to show again the limp body language.
He did not do it. And while he was still struggling to score, his energy and disposition never wavered. Remember, he is still 25 years old.
For Dwane Casey, the team's head coach, it's important that he tries to build a program and that playoff-level learning is essential to the build-up process.
For the first time in this series, this was done by his team. Until the talent gap was overcome and the Pistons Bank was overwhelmed and the Bucks turned a one-point deficit into a 23-point win.
They made the game ugly … in a nice way. And despite all the fouls – they were whistled for 31 – they still managed to score 85 points in the first three quarters.
The game was a slog, but somehow joyful, physical and yet graceful. There were crossovers and spin moves and fade aways.
Pistons guard Reggie Jackson dribbles against Bucks guard George Hill during the first half of Game 4 of the playoff series at the Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Monday, April 22, 2019. (Photo: Junfu Han, Detroit Free Press)
And then there was Giannis Antetokounmpo, the future of the NBA, all 6 feet-11-inches from him, who exploded and climbed to 41 points.
Once Drummond pushed him in as he drove to the rim and was ready to throw his burglary attempt into the seats. Somehow Antetokounmpo pulled back, changed hands and threw it in.
There is nobody in the league who is like him. And that's good.
What Casey had – and eventually got – his team insisted on fighting Antetokounmpo. No open lanes anymore. No undisputed dunks anymore. No matador is spinning anymore.
Yes, the Bucks shot 41 free throws. But they felt the pistons in a way they did not have all the series. Not even on Saturday night, when the Little Caesars Arena was lit up.
The Pistons hung their heads that night.
Not on Monday.
What's that worth?
We will see next season after the Front Office made its voting decisions and try to find more shooting and playmakers surrounding Griffin and Drummond.
But it was worth a lot for most of the three quarters.
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