Game 3 was the gathering of a perfect storm
We have long maintained that for the Bucks to win a game in this series they would have to play "out of their asses" and the Pistons would have to play pedestrian basketball. We didn't see it happening, especially with the Pistons being so battle tested in the postseason play. But, Saturday night at the Bradley Center, it did happen. Essentially we saw the gathering of a perfect storm. Here's why it came together.
The Pistons had been sleepwalking through the first two games, yet collected easy victories in each. They could not possibly have been keyed up for Game Three. They certainly weren't.
The Bucks, on the other hand, had been disrespected and ridiculed by so-called NBA experts in a manner I haven't seen before. TNT flashed a graphic showing the Pistons already advanced to the second round. Charles Barkley, the Stepin Fetchit of NBA television commentary, was particularly cruel in his mockery of Milwaukee. ESPN's Greg Anthony, a former Buck, declared that the Bucks would not win a game. Its no wonder their mouths were foaming like rabid dogs last night. The Bucks were ready to play.
Even so, the results from last night were astonishing. In a head-to-head comparison of each team's top 7 players, six Bucks outplayed their Piston counterparts (in Eff48 terms). The lone exception was the Bogut-Wallace matchup, which Wallace won. The Bucks had four players score over 40 Eff48 points, with three scoring Chamberlin-like +50's. I never thought I would see that against Detroit. A remarkable achievement.
By contrast, the Pistons were either mediocre or awful. Three Piston starters had really horrendous nights: Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, and Ben Wallace. Hamilton was so bad he didn't even register an Eff48 score at all (his only positive stats were 12 points and those were completely offset by 2 turnovers and 10 missed field goals). Prince was pretty bad too. In 37 minutes of action, he barely made a mark. This is less surprising, though. We've long maintained Prince is overrated. If you treat him roughly, as the Bucks did Saturday, he will back down. He is the one Piston the Bucks should never allow themselves to be beaten by.
Here are the comparative numbers:
TJ Ford: 43.20
Chauncey Billups: 31.13
Michael Redd: 54.85
Richard Hamilton: 00.00
Jamaal Magliore: 26.48
Ben Wallace: 6.62
Bobby Simmons: 13.71
Tayshaun Prince: 3.89
Andrew Bogut: 11.07
Rasheed Wallace: 22.66
Joe Smith: 52.57
Antonio McDyess: 38.40
Mo Williams: 55.99
Lindsey Hunter: 48.00