The start of the NBA playoffs always brings a series or two that, when seen on the schedule, elicits a collective cry from fans all over the world: “Can we just skip this one?” At first glance, the Bucks-Pistons series, which has the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 seed going against a Blake Griffin-less 8 seed, falls into this category of skippable games. The final score of Game 1, 121-86 in favor of the Bucks, doesn’t present much of a reason to watch the remaining three games.
But! What if I told you that there is in fact a good reason to watch the rest of the Bucks-Pistons series, and that the reason is this: Giannis Antetokounmpo is going to clown the Pistons so badly that by the fourth quarter of Game 4 they will be huddled together at the center of the court, weeping and trembling and begging for a mercy they will not receive.
Antetokounmpo scored 24 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in just 23 minutes during Game 1. The only conclusion to be drawn from the performance is that the Pistons, like every other team in the league, can’t do anything to stop this guy. Antetokounmpo went wherever he wanted on the floor and did whatever he wanted to do once he got there; he was so much bigger and stronger and meaner than anyone else that he popped off the screen like a video game boss. In response, the Pistons did what angry and overmatched teams often do, and tried to get rough with Antetokounmpo. Former Buck Thon Maker sent the Greek Freak to the ground on a drive early in the game, and in the second half Andre Drummond gave up all pretense:
If there’s one thing we’ve learned about Antetokounmpo as he’s fully come into his powers over the last few seasons, it’s that he can be a real bastard on the court. He told the whole world that Ben Simmons is a “fucking baby” for no other reason than Simmons kind of got in his way. What do you think he’s going to do now that Drummond and the Pistons have antagonized him?
You only get to see a very good NBA player transform into a world-destroying superstar so many times in your life, and this season has offered us a chance to watch Antetokounmpo do just that. This is his first playoff series as the most unstoppable force in basketball, and now he’s got a squad of petulant scrubs laid out in front of him, just begging to be humiliated. If Antetokounmpo decides to grant them their wish, it will be worth tuning in for.