Tonight the Pistons will host the Bucks at the Palace at 7:30pm EST. The Pistons are on one days rest following a win over the Nets in their last game, the Bucks are on the second of a back to back after losing to the Jazz last night. While not technically eliminated, the Bucks are out of the playoff picture.
The Them: The Bucks have been a very disappointing team for many people this year, and most of the stats back up that they have just been a pretty bad team on both ends this season, and have been especially poor on the road. HOWEVA, since the move to Point Giannis this team has looked very different and been much better, even if they have not managed to turn it into a lot more wins. Since the break the Bucks have been a really effective 104.9 OffRtg. while their defense is still sagging lower than anyone would have thought, a defensive rating of 102.8 since the break is workable with. (even if still not very good) Point Giannis has been an absolute terror, averaging 19 points, 8 assists, and 9 boards since the switch. (And doing that pretty efficiently too I might add) He attacks the paint with abandon and is crazy hard to stop when he gets there, and he loves to run the ball at every opportunity. Kris Middleton (pour one out for what could have been) is still a freaking monster. He is long and quick on the defensive end of the floor, and on offense he is a sniper from distance who has developed a bruising post up game and can dribble right past bigger dudes. Jabari Parker has found himself since the break averaging 20 points per game. He has a kind of goofy, bouncy midrange game with the occasionally explosion to the rim sprinkled in. He is also an absolutely terrifying back door cutter. Jarryd Bayless is a good shooter and can do a few other decent things on offense, and he is not a horrible defensive player but he is mostly a fill in as "Someone who can shoot" in the starting lineup. Greg Monroe has fallen off a bit of a cliff since the switch to Point Giannis, even coming off the bench for a period. He is still a bruising inside scorer who throws smart passes, and tries hard enough on defense to be not as bad as a lot of people make him out to be. (He is bad but just not as bad as some think) But he can't shoot or protect the rim. Off the bench Jon Henson is crazy tall and long, and Miles Plumlee is a bouncy and smart big guy. The pair together to form a really goofy yet effective bench frontcourt (and yes they play together a lot) of rim diving dunkers on offense and high flying rim protectors on defense. Tyler Ennis is the backup PG and he has shown some good stuff as far as being an NBA level PG goes the past few games, but we don't know how good he is for sure. This is a team with a bunch of young athletes and Greg Monroe. They love to get out in transition and dunk all over your face. They have been a hugely entertaining team since the switch to Point Giannis.
Matchups to watch:
Andre vs. Moose: Even though Monroe is not playing a ton or in a huge role, this is still a big one to watch even if just for fun. 2 former teammates going against each other, both are bruisers who like to dominate the paint, and both are very good. Andre has generally come out on top the past few times they have matched up but it will still be fun to see them go at it.
KCP vs. Middleton: I'm guessing here that KCP will get Middleton and Reggie will be on Bayless. KCP has generally struggled to be effective defending taller and physical guys. Kris Middleton is both of those things. I would expect Middleton to turn around and back KCP down a lot in this game, and the Pistons have to hope that KCP can find some sort of answer for it, because if KCP is not having a big positive impact on defense he is waaay less valuable. Also, Middleton is their best player so KCP needs to find a good game to not let it go too far in favor of the Bucks.
Pistons vs. Point Giannis: It is literally crazy that Giannis runs the point. But the Pistons will have to find ways to keep him out of the paint, avoiding breakdowns, and getting back on defense. Not too mention that one of Morris/Harris will have a very hard time scoring on the other end. IF they can manage to keep Giannis out of the paint the Bucks offense will be in serious trouble though.
Morris/Harris vs. Parker: Jabari Parker has found his game lately, and has torched guys in the midrange. He is exactly the sort of guy that is a really hard cover on defense because he likes to go one on one, but is also very smart without the ball in his hands. On the other end though, he is still learning on defense so whoever he guards should have a shot to get some offense going.
Bench mob vs. Crashing: The bench played easily their best non-Jennings game against the Nets. They need to not come crashing down to earth in this game. The Bucks bench is not very good either, but I am worried the law of averages is about to come crashing down on the bench mob.
So in conclusion...
Cackle with knowing glee if:
Andre is dominating Moose in various ways.
The Pistons are making Giannis take jumpers.
KCP is stealing the ball from Kris Middleton a lot.
Run for the hills if:
The Bucks start running in transition.
Plumlee and Henson are dunking on everyone.
Giannis gets into the paint.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Giannis has a triple double.
Andre has a lot of fun going against the skinnier Plumlee and Henson when they are on the floor.
Reggie Jackson explodes.
Should be a fun game. The Bucks have been hella fun to watch lately. Should be a good game.
What do you think? Think the Pistons can keep Giannis out of the paint? Let me know! We all get smarter!