Griffin-less Pistons try to stop skid vs. Bucks

(Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Detroit Pistons couldn't beat Milwaukee when they had Blake Griffin in the lineup for all four regular-season meetings.

It is going a lot worse without Griffin in the postseason.

The All-Star forward is once again listed as day-to-day with a left knee injury, and the Pistons have their backs against the wall entering Saturday's Game 3 of the Eastern Conference first-round series against the top-seeded Bucks.

The odds of Griffin returning Saturday seem low after Detroit coach Dwane Casey didn't want to discuss the subject after Friday's practice.

"Day-to-day. I'm not talking about Blake," Casey told reporters. "Day-to-day. Same old words. Just like I am on coaching -- day-to-day."

Milwaukee won the first two games of the series by an average of 28 points as Griffin sat in street clothes on the bench. The veteran forward did get his name in the box score both games by drawing technical fouls while arguing from the bench.

Not having Griffin will certainly make it harder for the eighth-seeded Pistons to end their slide against the Bucks.

The Pistons lost the four regular-season meetings by an average of 14.8 points despite Griffin averaging 24.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 7.0 assists.

Milwaukee's superiority has risen with Griffin out of the lineup as it posted wins of 121-86 and 120-99 on its home floor.

The Bucks haven't won a playoff series since 2001 and seem intent on squashing that factoid. Milwaukee was ousted in the first round in each of the past two seasons -- by the Toronto Raptors in six games 2017 and by the Boston Celtics in seven last season.

"We went through adversity, seven games last year," Bucks point guard Eric Bledsoe told reporters. "We know what it takes now. We are focused, so we're trying to block everything out and focus on us, just do our job."

Bledsoe scored 27 points in the Game 2 win on Wednesday and is averaging 21 points in the series.

All-Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo is averaging 25 points and 14.5 rebounds and has recorded double-doubles in both games. He had 24 points and 17 rebounds in Game 1 and 26 points and 12 rebounds in Game 2.

Milwaukee All-Star forward Khris Middleton also stood out in Game 2 with 24 points and eight assists as the Bucks clicked on all cylinders.

"We've been great so far in the playoffs," Milwaukee center Brook Lopez told reporters. "The playoffs are very long, but we have to keep just taking it one game at a time."

The Pistons tried to minimize matchup problems made worse by Griffin's absence by going to a smaller lineup in Game 2.

Guard Luke Kennard entered the starting group to form a three-guard attack that included Wayne Ellington and Reggie Jackson.

Kennard made an impact by scoring 19 points while making 4 of 6 3-point attempts. It followed up a strong Game 1 effort in which he scored 21 points off the bench and made 4 of 5 from behind the arc.

"I was excited to get out there and show what I can do," Kennard told reporters after Game 2. "It's a different atmosphere. The intensity is at another level. The speed, the physicality, things you can get away with -- it's different."

Casey said Kennard provided the spark he was hoping to see despite the 21-point margin of defeat.

"It set the tone, gave us a little juice and energy," Casey said. "Against this team, you have got to score. You cannot think that you can get that many stops and not give yourself a chance to win."

--Field Level Media

Updated April 20, 2019