DETROIT – Giannis Antetokounmpo finished dressing, sat in front of his locker and looked up.
Usually, that’s the signal a player is ready to begin his postgame interview.
The swarm of reporters in the visiting locker room barely even turned his direction.
“No media?” Antetokounmpo asked rhetorically as he feigned leaving. “OK.”
That the MVP favorite was an afterthought in the Bucks’ 119-103 Game 3 win over the Pistons on Saturday is a tribute to Milwaukee’s strength as a team. Four Bucks outscored Antetokounmpo as Milwaukee again crushed Detroit to take a 3-0 series lead.
All 132 teams up 3-0 in a best-of-seven series have won the series – most of them by sweep. The Bucks – who haven’t won a playoff series in the previous 17 years – can close this one in Game 4 Monday.
“It’s going to be a nice feeling, winning my first playoff series,” Antetokounmpo said after sitting back down. “And it’s going to be a nice feeling, the team getting out of the first round. And it’s going to be keep going. Whoever we play in the second round, I know it’s far away from here – six, seven days away – but whoever we play, we’re going to try to win.”
Forgive Antetokounmpo for looking ahead. Even for a team up 3-0, Milwaukee has looked particularly dominant.
The Bucks have outscored Detroit by 72 points so far – the second-largest margin through three games of a best-of-seven series. Here are the biggest combined margins through three games of all series (game scores in parentheses):
Antetokounmpo (14 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, five fouls, four turnovers,) just never got got in a groove. The Bucks even got outscored by seven points with Antetokounmpo on the floor.
But Khris Middleton (20 points), Brook Lopez (19 points), Eric Bledsoe (19 points), Ersan Ilyasova (15 points), Nikola Mirotic (12 points) and George Hill (11 points) stepped up. The Bucks were +23 without Antetokounmpo – one of their best-ever marks while the superstar sat.
“It’s not just all about Giannis, as amazing and great as he is,” Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer said.
For the Pistons, it wasn’t all about Blake Griffin.
Detroit’s best and most important player surprisingly played through knee pain that sidelined him the first two games. Griffin (27 points and six assists) had his moments, but he was clearly hobbled. Though the Pistons’ offense flowed far better with Griffin, their defense remains no match for the Bucks’ elite attack. Especially with Griffin slowed.
In a skid dating back to 2008, the Pistons have now tied the Knicks (2001-2012) for longest playoff-game losing streak at 13 games.
Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson are the only current Pistons who played in a 2016 sweep to the Cavaliers. Nearly everything – arena, ownership, front office coaching staff, players – has changed since a 2009 sweep to Cleveland, which was preceded by dropping the final two games of the Eastern Conference finals the year prior against the Celtics.
But this record now falls on the franchise.
Here are the longest playoff-game losing streaks of all time:
With a deep supporting cast he truly seems to enjoy and a win, it was easy for Antetokounmpo to brush off his lackluster game.
“Hey, there’s going to be nights like this,” Antetokounmpo said.
For Detroit, a lot of them.