Ahh, sweet revenge. Or the chance for revenge, anyway. The Detroit Pistons are looking to bounce back from the throttling they received from the Milwaukee Bucks in a late-November matchup in Wisconsin. The Pistons offense is actually clicking, shooting over 50 percent in the previous two games, the first time it's happened all season. The Bucks, meanwhile, are coming off of a 25-point shelling courtesy of the San Antonio Spurs. Of course, when they blitzed Detroit, they were coming off of a 37-point drubbing from the Indiana Pacers.
Where: The Palace of Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills, MI
When: Friday, December 4, 2015 at 7:30 PM EST
Watch: Fox Sports Detroit, 105.1 FM
The Bucks are a hard team to get a read on. One of last year's most pleasant surprises has gone from allowing 99.3 points per 100 possessions to 106.7 and have the fourth-worst net rating in the NBA. The team has lost nine of 12 and has been getting outscored by a league-worst 10.6 points per 100 possessions in that span. They also sport the league's second-worst rebounding percentage, the fourth-worst turnover ratio and play at the league's slowest pace.
Despite hitting 3s at a healthy 37.8 percent clip only six teams have attempted fewer 3s per game since Nov. 10, when their skid began. Instead, they attack the rim with abandon, with nobody in the league taking a larger percentage of their shots in the restricted area. The Bucks are able to convert a good percentage but they don't do two things crucial to offensive success -- get to the foul line and they don't get offensive rebounds.
In fact, if you were to look at three priorities for the game from Detroit's perspective it is 1. Take care of the ball. 2. Offensive rebound. 3. Don't let them get comfortable behind the 3-point line.
The Bucks have a lot of frenetic athletes and they want to attack the rim before the defense gets set. The Bucks force a middling 15.4 turnovers per game, but they capitalize on the opportunities, netting 19.4 points off turnovers in their past 12 games. Conversely, the team is giving up 20.2 points off turnovers, so Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Reggie Jackson and even Andre Drummond should be aggressive looking for steals and transition opportunities.
Speaking of Drummond, while his prolific rebounding has fallen somewhat to earth in the past week or so, if you were going to get back on the 20-20 watch, tonight's is a good game to watch. The Bucks is the worst defensive rebounding teams in the league since Nov. 10 and gives up more than 15 second-chance points per game.
All that being said, precisely the opposite happened in the first meeting between these two teams. The Bucks hit nearly 70 percent of their 3s, won the turnover battle, dominated the paint and played Detroit to nearly a draw on the boards.
An important note for Pistons fans who might not be paying super close attention to the Bucks is that coach Jason Kidd is either fed up or in desperation mode and has been experimenting with the starting lineup. The Bucks started OJ Mayo and Jerryd Bayless in place of Jabari Parker and Michael Carter-Williams in Sunday's loss to the Hornet. And Monday's win against the Nuggets then started Tyler Ennis while Bayless got a DNP-CD Wednesday against the Spurs.
Players to watch
Detroit Pistons: Andre Drummond
Drummond's not struggling, necessarily but he's ONLY grabbed 12, 13, 18 and seven rebounds, respectively in the last four games. He's also shot 50 free-throws in the past three games and hit only 12 (two big ones though!). After getting so thoroughly clowned by Greg Monroe in the first matchup of former teammates, it'd be nice to see the Pistons and Drummond answer with a dominating effort.
Milwaukee Bucks: Greg Monroe
Who else? Moose had 20 points, 13 boards and two steals in his first game against his former team. While I can't speak to Monroe's culpability in Milwaukee's defensive struggles this year (though the transition from the underrated Zaza Pachulia to Monroe seems significant), I can say that the young center is delivering exactly as advertised on the offensive end. Monroe is shooting 9.1 shots within five feet of the basket per game and hitting at a respectable 59 percent clip. His rebound rate is at career norms, his assist percentage is up and, crucially, his turnovers are at a career low.
Last time we met
November 23, 2015 - Bucks 109, Pistons 88
Pistons: Reggie Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Marcus Morris, Ersan Ilyasova, Andre Drummond
Bucks: Tyler Ennis(?), OJ Mayo, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Greg Monroe
Pistons: Jodie Meeks, Brandon Jennings
Will this be the night for revenge? Guess Drummond's final stat line in the comments.