Tonight at 7:00pm EST the Pistons will welcome the Milwaukee Bucks to the LCA. The Pistons are on two days of rest after losing to the Lakers on Tuesday, while the Bucks are on one day of rest following a loss to the Hornets on Wednesday.
The Bucks have a couple of really good players, and a whole lot of questions. Giannis Antetokoumpo is incredible just in case you've been living under a rock, he does it on both ends, runs the point, and basically never shoots jumpers and is still almost totally unstoppable. Khris Middleton remains one of the most painfully underrated players in the NBA, and he is the second best player on this team, he has not shot the ball all that well to open the season but he is huge for a shooting guard, an absolute sniper from deep, a tough isolation scorer, and good defender. Greg Monroe or Jabari Parker would usually come up next, but Parker is out a while yet after tearing his ACL last year, and Monroe is out for a week or so with calf soreness.
Malcolm Brogdon is a perfectly acceptable 3 and D player and is shooting really well out of the gate this year, you can say the same for Tony Snell. Even though both are pretty limited in doing much beyond their basic roles, they are both pretty good at their basic roles. After that it starts to get a bit ugly though. Matthew Dellavedova is shooting decently from deep and is a bit of a pest defensively, but he has been pretty bad in his time with the Bucks, John Henson is freakishly long and can block shots but isn't all that good a defender and doesn't do much on offense. Thon Maker is a good veteran to have on such a young team, and he is shooting decently from deep but not anywhere else and like Henson he is a good enough athlete to block some shots but still isn't a very good defender. Mirza Teletovic can really shoot the deep ball, but couldn't defend Yi Jianlian's chair, although the lack of shooting on the rest of the roster makes him an important piece for them regardless. DeAndre Liggins is a scrappy, and pretty good defender but does close to nothing on offense. Rashad Vaughn can shoot a little bit.
This is a top heavy team, and two of their four top heavy guys are out making this a bit of a dangerous time for them. Giannis and Middleton are good enough to single-handedly carry them to victories, but it is a huge burden on them.
Matchups to watch:
Pistons vs. Giannis: Giannis is incredible, and while Stanley will likely spend most of the game guarding him, it will be a team effort. The Bucks do not put a lot of shooting around Giannis, and it will be important for the rest of the team to do well in being quick to collapse on Giannis drives and then not letting shooters be too open.
Andre vs. the fishing village: The Bucks are long, but especially with Monroe out, they are not very big. To give you an idea for this, the heaviest dude in their starting lineup is about to be Khris Middleton at a whooping 234 pounds. Middleton is not exactly a bulky dude. There is enough length to make him work, but if Andre is active and a little bit lucky he could be in for a huge game.
Jackson/Harris vs. Passing: The Bucks are still utilizing a hyper-aggressive defensive scheme that often traps ball handlers. Jackson has generally proven up to the task of beating those with passing, Tobias rarely has, and even Jackson gets too confident sometimes. Make the right passes out of those and you shred the Bucks, turn the ball over and get Giannis in transition and you get killed.
Pistons vs. Bouncing back: It was a very disappointing loss to the Lakers, but they still went 2-1 on the road trip. If the Pistons come out and play well for a win tonight then the Lakers loss is no big deal, play poorly and lose and we may have a problem.
So in conclusion...
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
Andre has a double double in the first quarter.
The Pistons are not turning the ball over.
Giannis is driving into a packed paint over and over again, and the Bucks shooters are not making the Pistons pay for it.
Run for the hills if:
Giannis gets in transition.
The Bucks start hitting threes.
Andre isn't controlling the paint on both ends.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Andre has his first 20/20 game of the season.
Reggie Jackson has a very good game passing the ball and gets lots of assists. Tobias Harris doesn't.
Stanley Johnson actually gives Giannis problems.
Giannis doesn't go off, the Pistons control the game from start to finish.
Pistons 107 – Bucks 95.