Tonight at 7:00pm EST the Pistons will be hosting the Bucks at the LCA. The Pistons are on one day of rest after losing to the Raptors on Monday. The Bucks are on the second night of a back to back and third game in four nights with travel after losing to the Wizards last night.
The Bucks are good, and they've started to find themselves since Jason Kidd got fired. They come into the game with the 11th best offensive efficiency in the NBA with 107.3 points scored per 100 possessions and the 15th ranked defense at 106 points allowed per 100 possessions but that defensive efficiency is trending up significantly.
They are of course led by Giannis Antetokounmpo who is pretty good in case you hadn't heard. He can't really shoot beyond like 10 feet but it hardly even matters. He's so huge and athletic that he just scores anyways, he gets tons of assists, is a terror on defense, and is generally incredible. One of the dudes in the NBA who is worth the price of admission. My beloved Khris Middleton has still not totally found his three point shot this season but he is the teams second best player and one of the more underrated guys in the NBA. He is scoring 20 points per game, is a sniper, and a long defender. Eric Bledsoe is largely the same player he was in Phoenix just less sad about everything, a bulldog defender and explosive scorer who struggles to shoot. Jabari Parker is back but they are easing him back into things and has been coming off the bench, I also don't know for sure if there is any chance for them to hold him out due to the back to back or anything.
After that things get a bit more dicey. Tony Snell can shoot spot up looks and is pretty long, Jon Henson is very tall and not all that good other than the occasional big block and dunk. Thon Maker is a great veteran presence on such a young team who has not really realized his skill-set but its still a nice skill-set. Sterling Brown is a shooting guard off the bench, I honestly don't know a lot about him other than that he can shoot a bit. Jason Terry is still alive and kicking, somehow.
Antetokounmpo and Middleton are just about as good a 1-2 punch as any team other than Houston and Golden State (also probably Cleveland because LeBron) and Bledsoe gives them a really good third bannana. They are not always the cleanest fit on offense but all three defend which makes their fit more snug. If Jabari Parker can actually find a way to be an effective two-way player with this team (there is the question of his simply ability after another big injury and also his fit even if he realizes his potential) then they are probably going to be a killer team for the next few years because once you have four dudes of that level it doesn't matter what the rest of the roster is. For now though, they have weakness in that they are pretty shallow after those three.
Matchups to watch:
Bucks vs. Energy levels: The Bucks are on the dreaded back to back third in four nights game. And last night they did not exactly play a easy game. After falling way behind early (it was 40-22 at the end of the first quarter) they made a slow and steady comeback to lose by 3. The Pistons are not exactly coming off vacation, but it is possible the Bucks are spent and the Pistons catch a break. The downside is that the Bucks lost their last two by small margins and the desperation to get a win may fuel them a bit.
Andre Drummond vs. The fishing village: This is well established. The Bucks really do not have anyone who can tangle with Drummond inside. They have to go to large lengths from other places to contain him.
Blake Griffin vs. Tony Snell: I was going to make this a joke about the fact that Snell is probably very overmatched here (which is true) but Griffin has proven that he struggles with shooters on defense. Griffin should be able to get his on offense, but he can't lose Snell on the other end.
Stanley Johnson vs. Giannis: This has been fun before, should be again. Giannis is a freak who bullies his way inside for crazy buckets. Stanley is built like an oak tree and twice as stubborn. Also of interest, I wonder if the Bucks maybe sick Giannis onto Griffin if Snell struggles.
Pistons offense vs. Keeping this process: You people don't believe me and I get it. But the offense has been running better, they just need that last bit so that they are finishing plays.
Pistons defense vs. Not being awful: The offense has not really been the problem the last three games. The defense has. Cover three point shooters, pay attention to your rotations, don't be terrible.
Pistons vs. Getting a freaking win: I'm not sure the Pistons have needed to get a win as badly as they do right now. Get a win here and then go to Orlando for another and they are back in it. Got to stop the fall.
So in conclusion...
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
Drummond and Griffin are owning the paint on both ends of the floor.
Stanley Johnson is up to the task of guarding Giannis.
The Bucks look a step slow and get slower as the game goes on.
Run for the hills if:
The Pistons are still leaving shooters open constantly.
Giannis is doing whatever he wants, whenever he wants.
The Bucks are angry about two straight close losses.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Drummond and Griffin both have great games.
Stanley Johnson is up to the task.
Kris Middleton scores a great deal of points. So does Eric Bledsoe.
Middleton keeps a tired Bucks team in the game through the third quarter but the Pistons pull away in the fourth thanks to fatigue and get a schedule win.
Pistons 105 – Bucks 90.