Thon Maker vows to step up to former teammate Giannis

MILWAUKEE - Thon Maker vowed to analyse his effort, watch film, and come back with an improved defensive performance on Giannis Antetokounmpo for game two against the Milwaukee Bucks.

With 9:26 remaining in the second quarter, he registered a definitive win over the likely MVP. The Australian emphatically swatted an Antetokounmpo shot attempt, bringing back memories of his playoff highlight reels from years previous, though this time, the impressive play was met with silence from the now opposing Bucks' fans.

There was little emotion shown from either player but the response from Antetokounmpo was emphatic, as he took a mere five seconds to back Maker down and throw a ferocious poster dunk in his face in what was the most memorable sequence of the game.

"I'm just trying to do my job, be aggressive. Obviously, Thon is 7'1", 7'2", long, he can block shots, that's one of the things he does great, but I tried to get him a little bit deeper in the paint and I was able to find the position to dunk on him," Antetokounmpo said.

For Maker, getting dunked on is just part of being a shot blocker in the NBA.

"I don't care about getting dunked on, you just see all that stuff on the internet. I block more shots than I get dunked on, let's get that out of the way," Maker said, making a waving off gesture with his hands.

"A lot of people try and rub it in your face and say, 'oh, you got dunked on,' but come on man, if you're out there not playing one hundred percent, sub yourself out. You shouldn't be playing. I blocked him a few times, but he caught me a few times, he blocked me as well, it's all within the game."

It wasn't the first time Maker has been put on a poster, and he assured ESPN it wouldn't be the last, a fearless trait that he shares with his former teammate from Greece.

"When I was here I think we both led the league in getting dunked on," Maker said with a laugh.

"My second year, or my first year, we got dunked on so many times, but we kept challenging every shot and it's a great quality to have contesting every shot."

On the court the Pistons displayed an improved defensive effort in the first half, carrying a rare lead into the halftime break, before a 62-40 edge for the Bucks in the second half blew out the final margin, and Milwaukee now hold a commanding 2-0 lead after the 120-99 victory.

Six-time All-Star, Blake Griffin, was again a late scratch from the game, getting shots up in pre-game warm-up before ultimately ruling himself out with his lingering knee complaint.

Pistons head coach Dwane Casey remains hopeful Griffin can play a part in the series - outside of the two technical fouls he's picked up from the sideline-starting with game three in Detroit on Sunday morning.

Antetokounmpo is averaging 25 points and 14.5 rebounds over the first two games, and while the Pistons offense continues to struggle, Maker was quick to point out that Griffin's addition would give Detroit a multi-faceted boost.

"He's a guy that you think he's just taking shots on the offensive end, no, he's making plays on the defensive end, he does a good job when we put him on Giannis as well," Maker said.

"I wasn't here when the Pistons played the Bucks earlier, but I saw how he was playing and he's giving me tips from the sideline now. He brings that extra help, the rebounding as well and then you get to the shot making which we all know about."

Maker said there were "a lot of positives" to come from the game, though he was unable to hide his frustration when talking about his own shooting struggles. Maker is 0-for-9 from the beyond the three-point line thus far, as the Detroit coaching staff continue to encourage him to let it fly.

"They tell me to keep shooting, but keep making plays, continue to be a playmaker out there. They tell to stop being a robot and start playing basketball, just start playing basketball," Maker said.

"Whether that is getting it off the dribble, hand offs here and there, just making plays, extra passes. They are telling me to shoot it, but I don't have my rhythm right now, so I got to move on to the next play."

Detroit must now win four out of five to snatch the most unlikely of series wins, but for now, they remain optimistic, as they head home for the first ever NBA playoff game at Little Casears Arena.

Optimism is great, but the clock is ticking on the Pistons season, and Maker knows he needs to find a way to get going on offense. Quickly.

"I'll find it, I'll find my rhythm."

The Detroit Pistons host the Milwaukee Bucks in game three on Sunday morning - Tip-off is at 10:00am (AEST)