Tonight the Pistons will be at the Palace to welcome the Bucks for a game at 7:30pm EST. The Pistons are on one days rest after beating the Cavs on Monday, the Bucks are also on one days rest after falling to the Wizards on Monday.
The Bucks are alongside the Pistons in the “Up and coming” ranks. They are currently sitting at a 14-15 record, but their advanced number suggest they should probably be a bit better. They have been rock solid, if not remarkable, on both ends of the floor. With an offensive efficiency of 105.8, good for 11th in the NBA, and a defensive efficiency of 103.3 which is good for 10th in the league.
The Bucks are led into battle by Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is having a pretty absurd year. He is straight up playing point guard at this point and he is doing it really well, props to Jason Kidd by the way, because when he first suggested it as an idea most everyone thought he was joking. Giannis is scoring 23.4 points per game on a TS% of 61% along with 9.1 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 2 steals, and 1.8 blocks per game. And he is doing it all even though he still doesn't really have a jumper. He is also a monstrous defender. Jabari Parker is 2nd in line, and at this point the Bucks are essentially a test of how much you can be carried by 2 awesome players, as Jabari is scoring 19.9 points on good efficiency as he has found his jumper from in and outside the 3 point line, he also has 5.7 boards and a pair of assists per game. Jabari is almost like a bigger, stronger, more athletic version of Tobias Harris offensively, as he has a sort of goofy drive game where he takes awkward shots but is awesome at hitting them. Greg Monroe has gone through some struggles this year, but has now settled into a role of playing about 20 some minutes per game off the bench and is playing harder on defense. Beyond that it is a sea of role players. Tony Snell is a decent defender who can shoot a little bit, but doesn't really offer much offensively and is nothing special defensively. Michael Beasley can score in the midrange and doesn't do a lot else. Malcolm Brogdon is actually looking like a nice find for them as a stereotypical “runs the offense well” type of point guard off the bench. Matthew Dellavedova hounds opposing point guards and acts as a nice secondary ball handler to Giannis and is averaging a career high in assists per game at 5.7. John Henson has really long arms and is a good athlete at center, Mirza Teletovic is a good if often irresponsible shooter from the 4 spot. Jason Terry is immortal.
This is a team with a lot of long athletes, led by a pair of freakish long athletes who are really good, and they lead a bunch of solid role players. If Kris Middleton were still around the Bucks might be pushing the Raptors and Cavs at the top of the conference.
Matchups to watch:
Pistons vs. Guarding Giannis: It will a combination of people, but probably Marcus for the most part. Giannis the the engine that makes the Bucks offense go, last time the Pistons were able to mostly keep him in check, and if they can do it again they will be in good shape. Andre will have his work cut out for him as well as he will have to give help a lot, but try not to surrender too many lobs.
Pistons vs. Guarding Jabari: Same sort of deal, he isn't Giannis, but he is really good. And Jon Leuer and/or Tobias will likely be guarding him for most of the night which does not bode very well for the Pistons. He is a whip smart interior scorer and backline cutter. Leuer will have to be on top of his offensive game.
Pistons vs. Taking care of the ball: The Bucks have a lot of long arms on defense, as such the Pistons need to make sure that they don't throw a bunch of careless passes, because not only are the Bucks very good at creating turnovers, they also are very good at turning them into transition points.
Tobias vs. Being 6th man of the year: He is probably going to the bench too late for anyone to take too much of notice, but lets go for it. If Tobias keeps scoring 20 per game people will have to notice, the bench slaughtered the last two games, lets see if it can keep up.
Andre vs. Everyone: The Bucks don't have any great centers, but they have a lot of size up front and even not up front. They just have a lot of size. Andre will have to be ready to work for his rebounds and points in this one.
So in conclusion...
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
Marcus pulls one of his randomly awesome defensive performances out.
Tobias is tearing it up from the bench again.
Reggie Jackson is playing dope.
Run for the hills if:
Jabari Parker is way too athletic for Jon Leuer.
Andre is struggling to make the right decisions about when to contest or not.
Mirza Teletovic starts hitting everything he shoots.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Tobias scores 25 points.
Giannis is largely held in check, if not shut down.
Jabari scores a lot of points.
The Pistons allow some good numbers from the Bucks top 2 guys, but keep everyone else out and win a comfortable game.
What do you think? Tobias for 6th man? Can the Pistons stop Giannis?