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Milwaukee Bucks

NBA Playoffs 2019: Three takeaways from Bucks 21-point Game 2 win over Pistons

After earning a 35-point win over the Pistons in Game 1, the Bucks continued their season-long dominance with a 120-99 win in Game 2.

Despite the final score, Game 2 had a much different identity than Game 1, as Milwaukee outscored Detroit 62-40 in the second half after trailing by a point at halftime.

Eric Bledsoe (27 points), Giannis Antetokounmpo (26 points) and Khris Middleton (24 points) combined to score 77 points for the Bucks, while Pat Connaughton added 18 points (on 8-for-10 shooting) to go along with nine rebounds off the bench.

Detroit was led by 19 points from Luke Kennard while Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson each added 18 points apiece. Despite Drummond's game-high 16 rebounds, the Bucks outrebounded the Pistons 54-43 on the night.

With that in mind, here are three takeaways from Milwaukee's big win…

Pistons' fall apart in the second half

After a blowout loss in Game 1, the Pistons showed a lot more fight today, grinding their way to an unlikely half-time lead against the Bucks.

They were much more engaged on the defensive end with Bruce Brown leading the way in the second quarter - getting steals, taking charges and closing out the Bucks' shooters. While Brown held down the defence, Luke Kennard led the offence in the four-guard lineup, scoring 14 of his 19 points in the first half on 4-of-5 shooting from deep, however, he and the Pistons were unable to replicate things in the second half, as they scored just 40 points over the last two quarters.

After knocking down 9-of-23 from beyond the arc in the first half, they managed just 3-of-13 from deep the rest of the way. Against a Bucks team loaded with firepower, they simply couldn't hang as Antetokoumpo and co broke the game open with a monster third quarter and with Brown on the bench, their defence didn't have many answers for the high-flying Bucks.

Giannis sets the tone

As mentioned above, the Bucks entered the half down one point to the Pistons, to the surprise of many.

Detroit outscored Milwaukee 32-20 in the second frame, holding Giannis Antetokounmpo to just three points on 1-for-5 shooting. Giannis went into the half with 10 points (on 4-for-8 shooting) and six rebounds - a solid stat line for most, but modest numbers for the Bucks' MVP.

Antetokounmpo was markedly aggressive in the third period, going 6-for-9 from the field to score 13 points in under nine minutes played. His aggression set the tone for Milwaukee, who outscored Detroit 35-17 to take a 17-point lead into the fourth quarter.

Giannis only needed to attempt one shot in the fourth - an and-one layup in transition that put the Bucks up 19 points with under six minutes remaining in the game.

In the second half alone, Antetokounmpo put forth a stat line of 16 points, six rebounds and two assists as the Bucks outscored the Pistons by 22 points to run away with yet another convincing win. He finished the night with totals of 26 points, 16 rebounds, four assists and two blocks.

The correlation is clear.

While the Pistons struggle without Blake Griffin, their only hope to compete in this series is to keep Antetokounmpo as (relatively) tame as he was in the first half.

Bledsoe's big game

After scoring 15 points (on 5-for-9 shooting) in Game 1, Eric Bledsoe exploded for a game-high 27 points (on 11-for-19 shooting) to go along with six assists, four rebounds and three steals in Game 2; three of his 11 made field goals were from the land beyond.

In the regular season, Bucks point guard averaged 15.9 points per game and sank more than three triples in just 16 of the 78 games that he appeared in; he scored 25 or more points just 10 times.

With Milwaukee awaiting the return of Malcolm Brogdon to its starting backcourt, Bledsoe's offensive output is a key to the team's ability to continue to dominate - his big game essentially neutralized the performance of Detroit's Reggie Jackson.

As the playoffs continue, Bledsoe's ability to maintain this rhythm and build confidence makes this team much scarier as he adds yet another dynamic to the offence.

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