Tonight at 8:00pm EST the Pistons will be away from home to play against the Bucks. The Pistons are on two days of rest after beating the Heat on Sunday, the Bucks are on one day of rest after beating the Grizzlies on Monday.
The Bucks recently made a splash by trading for Eric Bledsoe and they have gone on a 3 game winning streak since, although it may be unwise to look too much into that 3 game winning streak given that many of the same issues they had before are still very present. The offense is still solid with a offensive efficiency of 106.2 points per 100 possessions, while the defense is still very leaky, allowing 106.4 points per 100 possessoins. They are still lead by Giannis Antetokounmpo who is incredible on both ends even though he doesn't really have a jump shot he is so athletic and long that it largely doesn't matter. Khris Middleton is still their second best player and he is bound to break out of his shooting slump at some point soon. Eric Bledsoe is now starting at point guard, he is a good defender when engaged and can get buckets but he has a shaky jumper and turns the ball over too much. Tony Snell continues to prove himself as a very good 3 and D player but is limited to pretty much just that role. Jon Henson is the starting center now and he can block shots but does very little else on either end of the floor. Malcolm Brogdon is coming off the bench now but still playing major minutes, he is a role player but a really stinking good one who defends, shoots, and can inject bits of playmaking into the offense. Thon Maker is the backup center, he can shoot threes and is a good athlete but is severely lacking in girth in the paint and still has a lot to teach all the young players on the team. Matthew Dellavedova has not been very good for the Bucks, but he still can shoot threes with some competence and plays very hard on defense. DeAndre Liggins defends but is an almost total zero on offense.
This team is probably better than they were before they traded for Bledsoe, but they are still going to miss Monroe. They are almost comically small inside and if Brogdon and Snell come down from absurd shooting starts (both shooting 49% from deep) then they could quickly find themselves with a serious lack of shooters in the rotation as well. In the end, they are largely the same team they were before just that extra guy is a point guard instead of a center, they will go as far as Giannis will take them, Middleton and Bledsoe are both really good players and they have a few solid role players and some guys in the rotation who probably shouldn't be. A good team, but one with some serious holes.
Matchups to watch:
Andre Drummond vs. Basically nothing: Until Mirza Teletovic and Jabari Parker return, with the trading of Greg Monroe the heaviest dude in their entire rotation against Memphis was Khris Middleton. Drummond wrecked all kinds of havoc against the Bucks in the last outing and there isn't much reason tonight should be different.
Stanley Johnson vs. Playing: Both Johnson and Leuer practiced yesterday and it sounds like Johnson is going to play tonight. That is huge for the Pistons as he is by far the best option for guarding Giannis.
Pistons vs. Guarding Giannis: They did an excellent job of containing him in their last meeting, Stanley Johnson kept him away from the rim and when there were breakdowns the entire defense collapsed perfectly to contain him. If they can do that again then the Pistons will be in great shape.
Middleton vs. Breaking out: I always get nervous when the Pistons play against a career 40% three point shooter who is shooting 30% on the year. He is going to bust out of that at some point, and I'm worried it will be against the Pistons, if it is then this is going to be trouble.
Pistons vs. Replicating: The Pistons put on an absolute two way clinic on how to beat the Bucks when they last played. Bledsoe adds a certain amount of unpredictability and athleticism that wasn't there before, but if the Pistons can execute the game plan at a similar level they should win.
So in conclusion...
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
Andre Drummond has a double double at half time.
The Pistons are shredding the Bucks with pin-point passing again.
Stanley Johnson is still keeping Giannis away from the hoop.
Run for the hills if:
Stanley Johnson is out again.
Middleton is raining death from deep.
Bledsoe decides to have his first big game in a Bucks uniform.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
The Pistons play similarly effective defense against Giannis.
Andre Drummond dominates the paint on both ends.
Bledsoe and Middleton take full advantage of the attention paid to Giannis and have big games.
The Pistons win a close game lead by a huge performance from Andre Drummond.
Pistons 111 – Bucks 107.
What do you think? Does Bledsoe make the Bucks much better? Can the Pistons replicate their game plan?