Both of the NBA playoff series in action on Monday had the possibility of ending in a sweep — but only one of those series did see the brooms brought out.
While Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks took care of business against the Detroit Pistons, James Harden and the Houston Rockets will need at least one more game to get rid of the Jazz after an inspired performance from Utah in Game 4.
The Bucks’ sweep means that one second-round series is finally set as Milwaukee take on the Boston Celtics in a rematch of last year’s playoffs.
Meanwhile, the Rockets need to wait a while longer to set up their own rematch against the Golden State Warriors.
Milwaukee Bucks 127-104 Detroit Pistons (MIL win 4-0)
Giannis Antetokounmpo saved his best for last against the Pistons. After scoring just 14 points in Game 3, the Greek Freak poured in 41 points and 9 rebounds with 4 blocks in just 32 minutes in Game 4 as the Bucks closed out Detroit in one of the most dominant sweeps you can imagine.
Giannis’ 41 points was his highest total since dropping 45 on the Philadelphia 76ers in the second to last game of the regular season.
The fact that Antetokounmpo’s 32 minutes played in Game 4 was his series-high only underscored just how in command the Bucks were.
Even Blake Griffin’s return from a knee injury in Game 3 was not able to make this series competitive in any way, shape, or form. The Bucks’ margins of victory in their four wins against the Pistons were 35, 21, 16, and 23 points.
Griffin gave it his all in Game 4 and finished with 22 points, 5 rebounds, and six assists before fouling out. Meanwhile, Reggie Jackson erupted for 26 points as the Pistons led by as many as 10 points in the first half. But that was as good as it got for the Pistons as the Bucks roared back and never let up.
Milwaukee will now move on to the second round to face the Boston Celtics, who also completed their own sweep of the Indiana Pacers.
After demolishing the Pistons for four straight games, the Bucks should finally encounter some actual competitive postseason basketball against the Celtics, who knocked them out in the first round last season.
Both teams have changed significantly since then, though. Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward are now healthy for Boston after they both missed last year’s playoff run due to injury. And the Bucks have morphed into one of the best teams in the league under head coach Mike Budenholzer’s leadership.
Most NBA 2019 predictions will likely have the Bucks going through in that series. But it would be foolish to discount the Celtics, who possess the tools to give Milwaukee all they can handle.
Houston Rockets 91-107 Utah Jazz (HOU lead 3-1)
After the Jazz’s crushing Game 3 loss against the Rockets, Donovan Mitchell said Utah weren’t going to “lay over” in Game 4 and simply allow Houston to complete their sweep. And the Jazz’s second-year star backed up his big talk on the court as he led the Jazz to the Game 4 victory.
Mitchell took a while to get going, but he finally erupted in the fourth quarter, where he scored 19 of his team-high 31 points.
Prior to Mitchell taking over in the fourth, Jae Crowder (23 points, 8-13 FG) and Ricky Rubio (18 points, 11 assists) were the ones mainly responsible for keeping the Jazz within striking distance of the Rockets, who simply lost steam in the end.
After his 0-of-15 start to Game 3, James Harden had another rough shooting night as he went 8-of-19 with eight turnovers. Chris Paul also went 8-of-19 from the field, but he filled up the stat sheet with 8 rebounds, 7 assists, 5 steals, and 2 blocks in a losing effort.
Rockets big man Clint Capela had his worst game of the series in Game 4 as he finished with just 4 points and 7 rebounds. However, NBA 2019 news broke that he’s actually been battling two respiratory illnesses in this series.
The Jazz showed in the two games in Utah that the series wasn’t quite as one-sided as it looked back when they got blown out twice in Houston. Who knows what would have happened if they had been able to capitalise on Harden’s horrific shooting night and won Game 3.
us odds are still very much against the Jazz as no team in NBA history has come back from a 3-0 series deficit. But at the very least, they can still make the Rockets work to get that fourth win in Houston — or perhaps even force another game in Utah.
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