DETROIT – Detroit Pistons star Blake Griffin started Saturday's game against Milwaukee Bucks, marking his first playoff appearance in 2019.
Griffin got 27 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists Saturday night, but that was not enough. The Pistons fell to the Bucks 119-103 and dropped to 0-3 in the playoff series with the best of the seventh.
"We made some mistakes early in the season," Griffin said after the game. "A defeated couple defensively against such a team and a six point lead can go very quickly to 12 points."
While Griffin led the Pistons in scoring, he was perhaps more valuable in defense. Griffin has been assigned to Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo. Antetokounmpo finished with just 14 points – its lowest total since January.
Griffin missed the first two games of the series because of a knee pain. He also attended the final game of the Detroit regular season. Thon Maker had started in Griffin's place.
Before Saturday's game, Pistons coach, Dwane Casey, said that whether Griffin plays or not would be determined by his warm-up. He warmed up before the second game in Milwaukee on Wednesday before choosing not to play.
"It's one of those things that's tenuous," Casey said before the game. "He feels a lot, a lot better, so we're going from there."
Casey had said throughout the series that he hoped Griffin would feel good enough to come back. Before the second game, Casey had stated that Griffin, 30, felt no pain on certain days, while he felt uncomfortably on other days. His status has been on a daily basis since the beginning of the series last week.
"Bringing it back was really good for us," said Andre Drummond of Pistons Center. "We played as we were supposed to do."
Midway through the fourth quarter on Saturday, Griffin pulled himself together and landed awkwardly. He left the game limping and walked to the scorer's table. He returned to the game after that, but only briefly. He left for the last time while there was about 6 minutes left.
When asked to quantify his health after the match, Griffin refused to clarify his point of view and said he was healthy enough to play.
"With the injury, he gave us everything he could," Drummond said. "He definitely missed us, and it was nice to see him again."
Without Griffin, the Pistons were found in a 0-2 hole, losing 121-86 in the first game and 120-99 in the second game. But even with Griffin, the Pistons fought against Milwaukee in the regular season. Griffin participated in all four regular season games between the two teams. Despite Griffin averaging 24.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 7.0 assists in those clashes, the Bucks won all four games averaging 15 points.
Although he wore street clothes, Griffin had a technical foul on every Milwaukee match. He refused to deal with faults with reporters after the games.
Griffin averaged 24.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.4 assists in the regular season.