Milwaukee Bucks fall to the Detroit Pistons in three games in the first round of the Western Conference Playoffs
It was a brave new world for the Bucks during the 1975-76 season as they had made the franchise-changing decision to deal Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to the Los Angeles Lakers over the previous offseason.
Remnants of the team’s championship run from earlier in the decade still remained in Bob Dandridge, who led the Bucks in scoring that year (21.5 points per game on 50.2 percent shooting from the field), a 33-year-old Jon McGlocklin, on the verge of retiring at the end of the year, and reserve Mickey Davis. With the Bucks clearly bridging the gap into a new era, they finished with a 38-44 record under long-time head coach Larry Costello, which was good enough to take the then-Midwest Division.
On the other side, the Pistons, led by future Hall of Famer and future Buck Bob Lanier, who averaged a double-double for the season (21.3 points per game and 11.7 rebounds per game), endured a tumultuous season mired by a coaching change midway through the year. Despite finishing with a 36-46 record, two games back of the Bucks in the division, the Pistons punched their ticket to that year’s playoffs, setting up the clash with Milwaukee.
With Game 1 taking place at the MECCA Arena, the Bucks edged out the Pistons by notching a 110-107 win, a game which saw rookie guard Gary Brokaw lead the way with a 36-point performance on 13-of-17 shooting from the field (10-for-11 from the free throw line).
Game 2 saw the Pistons return the favor by outlasting the Bucks with a 126-123 victory on their home floor at Cobo Arena. Despite the Bucks collectively shooting 63.2 percent on their 76 attempts from the field, the Pistons registered 23 more field goal attempts on 50.5 percent shooting from the field to edge out the Bucks.
That set up the winner-take-all Game 3 at the MECCA. A hotly contested game throughout, the Pistons stole the contest in the waning moments by forcing the Bucks into committing successive turnovers to pull out the victory and move on to the Western Conference Semifinals to face the Golden State Warriors.