The Milwaukee Bucks are still trying to figure out who they are in the early days of the 2023-2024 season as they attempt to integrate a superstar guard in Damian Lillard and a new head coach in Adrian Griffin. The Bucks somehow owned the worst defense in the NBA through the first six games of the season, and have looked extremely rocky despite a 4-2 record. A matchup with a young and rebuilding Detroit Pistons team on Wednesday night gave Milwaukee another chance to find their chemistry.
The Bucks beat the Pistons, 120-118, in a nail-biter that didn’t exactly answer the questions Milwaukee is currently facing. Then again, the Bucks didn’t really have a chance after Giannis Antetokounmpo was ejected for one of the softest technical fouls you will see.
With the Bucks leading in the third quarter, Antetokounmpo did what he does: rumble down the floor, side step would-be defenders, and finish with power at the basket. Then he gave Pistons big man Isaiah Stewart a solid mean mug. The refs gave him a technical foul for it, and he was promptly ejected because it was his second of the game. Watch the play here:
Ridiculous and unnecessary. Fans spend their time and money attending games or watching them from home to see stars like Giannis. To have him thrown out early in the third quarter on a weak taunting call goes against everything the league should stand for.
Lillard rescued the Bucks without Giannis, finishing with 34 points in the win despite shooting 2-of-12 from three. The young Pistons look like they’re taking a step forward, but the offense is still too inefficient with Cade Cunningham often forcing the issue on a cramped floor.
For all the handwringing about how to improve NBA ratings, an easy move is telling the refs not to boot the game’s best players for totally arbitrary reasons. Something tells me that won’t be the last Giannis mean mug of the season.