The Detroit Pistons lost their four-game winning streak in overtime against the Charlotte Bobcats on Sunday night. After a full work week to stew over it, they're finally back in action Friday night against the Milwaukee Bucks, who are riding their own high under the helm of a new head coach.
After a less than desirable 16-16 start following a four-game skid, the Milwaukee Bucks decided to can Scott Skiles this week in favor of Jim Boylan, who coincidentally (and unsuccessfully) replaced Skiles in Chicago in 2007-2008. The Bucks have responded nicely to the change, winning back-to-back games, including a comeback win against the Bulls on Wednesday night.
At 18-16 now, the Bucks are currently the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference with plenty of room to rise. The high usage players, Brandon Jennings, who is averaging 32 points on 54-percent shooting in the last two games, and Monta Ellis share all the fanfare, but it's the strong play of Larry Sanders and Mike Dunleavy that deserve a lot of the credit.
Sanders, the third-year center out of VCU, has been an absolute beast on defense in under 27 minutes per game, blocking over three and a half shots and grabbing nearly 10 rebounds since being inserted into the starting lineup at the beginning of December. Dunleavy, playing the role of Steve Novak, has been shooting the lights out from beyond the arc at 42-percent, tying the 32 year old's career high.
Keys to the Game:
Bench: Charlie Villanueva has apparently nicknamed the Pistons' bench "the extremely angry young men." I don't really like (or get) it, but whatever gets them up on game days - they have a tough test against the Bucks' second unit. In the Pistons' recent stretch of big games, the bench had one of its weakest outings against these Bucks at home.
Moose vs. Larry Luv: Moose got the best of Sanders in Detroit (14 & 10), but this is an intriguing match up and worth keeping an eye on in Milwaukee.
Brandon Knight: Knight has not been very good at anything lately. Hopefully he benefitted the most from the time off.
Question of the Game:
Can the Pistons rediscover their groove after a tough OT loss to the bad Bobcats and subsequent lull in the schedule? Will my newborn baby start her career as a Pistons fan with a win?