Opponent Scouting: Milwaukee Bucks. (15-7)
Tonight at 8:00pm EST the Pistons will be on the road in Milwaukee to play against the Bucks. The Bucks are on three days of rest after losing to the Knicks and the Pistons are on one day of rest after getting blown out by the Thunder.
Why didn’t you recap the last game?
I figured if the Pistons were going to decide to not show up for work that night neither would I.
The Bucks are good, really good. They come into tonight featuring the best offense in the NBA by scoring 115.5 points per 100 possessions and the 6th best defense at 106.0. That combines together to give them the best net rating in the NBA with a impressive +9.6 points per 100 possessions.
They are of course led by Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Greek Freak is averaging 27.6 points, 13.2 rebounds, and 6 assists per game. He still can’t really shoot but he just dunks so much that it doesn’t matter. Giannis is a two-way monster who dominates the game in every phase.
After Giannis is the very underrated Khris Middleton, who’s averaging 18.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 4 assists per game while being the perfect yin to Giannis’ yang. Giannis is the hyper-athlete who jumps over everyone and dunks, while Middleton is a sniper with an old-man game. Giannis is obviously on a different level, but Middleton is spectacular.
Eric Bledsoe is a good pick and roll ball-handler and can defend when he wants too. It still feels like they are trying to find the best place for him to fit in, because he still occasionally shows brilliance, but this season he’s defended and shot well enough that he has worked just fine as a more complimentary piece. Malcolm Brodgon is back playing starters minutes, he struggles to defend high-end guys but competes and is shooting great on the other end. Brook Lopez is proving he can still play and is bombing 3s like never before.
Coming off the bench, Ersan Ilyasova is still doing his thing as a rock-solid stretch 4. Pat Connaughton is a serviceable guard, Jon Henson and Thon Maker are very skinny but also very tall. Donte DiVincenzo has shot terribly but he’s a rookie, Tony Snell is long and can shoot pretty well.
There are some legitimate questions about the depth of this Bucks squad, but they’ve got a MVP candidate in Giannis, a great #2 in Middleton, and Brogdon/Bledsoe sort of combine together to make #3. If some injuries come or Giannis’ play fall off in a meaningful way they could have some issues, but this team is finally reaching some of the potential many thought they’ve had the last few years.
Matchups to watch:
Pistons vs. Giannis: My guess is more minutes for Stanley Johnson here, but even so, Giannis is a different animal. It will take a team effort no matter what.
Starting lineup: Reggie Bullock is probably sitting this game out, Dwane Casey sounded like he was leaning towards Bruce Brown starting. Not sure how I feel about that.
Pistons bench mob vs. Getting control: The Bucks bench is a weakness (on paper at least) while the Pistons bench has been very good since Stanley Johnson moved there. This game may need the Pistons bench to really kill it in their minutes.
Pistons vs. Bouncing back: As ugly as that loss to the Thunder was, it happens in the NBA. The Pistons were playing their 3rd game in 4 nights, came up against a really good and hot Thunder team, and got killed. Bounce back and win tonight and that blowout gets to just be a one-off that we don’t worry about.
So in conclusion…
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
Stanley Johnson repeats last year and actually holds Giannis in check.
Andre Drummond keeps up his history of utterly smashing the Bucks.
The Pistons manage to keep their offense afloat without Bullock’s shooting.
Run for the hills if:
Giannis has dunked on every Pistons starter in the 1st quarter.
Kris Middleton is abusing the non-Stanley Johnson wing all game.
Bruce Brown starts and the Pistons literally do not score in the opening 4 minutes.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Blake Griffin and Giannis both score over 30.
Kris Middleton ends up giving the Pistons tons of issues.
A duel between Griffin/Drummond and Giannis/Middleton ends up going the Pistons way by a hair thanks to the Pistons bench outplaying the Bucks bench.
Pistons 113 - Bucks 109.