The field is set for the 2019 NBA Playoffs which begin on Sunday.
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Here is the schedule for the series which begins on Saturday.
- Game 1 - Monday at Milwaukee, 4:30 AM IST
- Game 2 - Thursday at Milwaukee, 5:30 AM IST
- Game 3 - April 21 at Detroit, 5:30 AM IST
- Game 4 - April 23 at Detroit, 5:30 AM IST
- Game 5 (if necessary) - April 25 at Milwaukee, time TBD
- Game 6 (if necessary) - April 27 at Detroit, time TBD
- Game 7 (if necessary) - April 29 at Milwaukee, time TBD
Recapping the season series
Result: Bucks swept series 4-0
Best game: December 18
The Pistons rallied back from 15 points down in the second half to take the lead in the fourth quarter. The Bucks took the lead back and led by seven with less than two minutes remaining before the Pistons once again fought back. Blake Griffin missed two potential game-tying 3-pointers in the final 15 seconds before the Bucks ultimately prevailed 107-104.
Best performance: Giannis Antetokounmpo - 21 points, 11 assists, 8 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks on January 30
With the exception of the meeting on December 18, the Bucks rolled in the four meetings as they swept the season series by an average of 14.8 points per game. Both Antetokounmpo and Blake Griffin played in all four games with Griffin outplaying him in two of the four contests. One key to watch is whether the Pistons can neutralize the Bucks in the open floor. The Bucks averaged 19.8 fastbreak points per game in the four meetings compared with just 6.5 for the Pistons.
Key storyline: Are the Bucks ready to contend?
For the Bucks, this series is about so much more than an opening round date with the Pistons. After the regular season it had, Milwaukee is finally thinking big and ready to win now after years of being the next up-and-coming team. The 1st Round is an opportunity for the Bucks to make an early statement, especially given an unusually strong top four in the East which could make for a hyper competitive final four in the conference.
On paper, this is a team that should be title favourites. Not only did they finish with the league's best record, they finished with a scoring margin that for much of the year ranked among the top 15 in NBA history. They finished with the league's top defence and the fourth-ranked offence. They can run in the open floor, they can shoot from almost anywhere. They have a potential MVP and a potential Coach of the Year.
All of that aside, it's a team without much history of postseason success which is a red flag. George Hill is the only rotation player that's appeared in a Conference Finals and the Bucks have lost in the 1st Round in each of their last eight playoff appearances. How Milwaukee comes out of the gates against a team it owned during the regular season should be telling.
3 Players to Watch
Giannis Antetokounmpo: In what's been his breakout year, the stage is set for a breakout postseason for the 24-year-old who has tasted the playoffs, but has yet to make any true lasting impression. He was likely the best player in the series in each of his last two playoff appearances: 2017 against the Raptors and 2018 against the Celtics. It didn't matter as the Bucks lost both series. In a sport where the best player typically comes out on top, this should be the time where the Greek Freak's own personal talent translates into team success.
Blake Griffin: Although he enters the postseason somewhat hobbled, Griffin is coming off what's been arguably the best season of his career. Though he may no longer have the bounce or explosion he used to, Griffin has expanded his game and is a far more complete player than he ever was in Los Angeles. Dwane Casey essentially treats Griffin as a point forward, running everything through their All-Star to the point that he finished third in the NBA in touches per game, just ahead of James Harden.
Malcolm Brogdon: The third-year guard hasn't played since March 16 as he recovers from a minor plantar fascia tear. Originally a six-to-eight week prognosis, Brogdon could miss the entire series. He isn't one of the most critical players after Antetokounmpo - that distinction falls on Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe and Brook Lopez - yet he does provide a calming influence and as the NBA's best free throw shooter, could prove important down the stretch of tight games. If Milwaukee is going to win a title, Brogdon figures to play a key role which is in part why any time he gets in early rounds is critical for playing his way into shape.
- The Bucks have lost in the 1st Round in each of their last eight playoff appearances. They haven't won a playoff series since 2001 when they advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals.
- A 60-win juggernaut in the regular season, the odds are in Milwaukee's favour. In NBA history, teams to win 60 or more games in the regular season have a 52-4 series record.
- The Bucks and Pistons have met four times in the postseason, most recently in 2006. The Pistons have won each of the four previous meetings.
- This is the first time the Bucks have been the 1 seed since 1974. It's the fifth time overall they've been the 1 seed.
- Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer has now made the playoffs in five of his six seasons as an NBA head coach. He has a 2-2 series record in the 1st Round.
- Despite both coaches making the postseason numerous times in the Eastern Conference, this is their first postseason meeting as the two did not cross paths when in Atlanta and Toronto