One major tweak to the starting lineup, and the Detroit Pistons have been able to keep up with the best.
A highly-contested loss to the league-leading Warriors, and a 16 point win against the Cleveland Cavaliers have people around Motown a bit more optimistic as we near the All Star break. Yes, it’s a small sample size, but after the two week stretch we all endured, let me have my ice cold glass of Kool-aid in peace!
In order to keep momentum up, a home win against the Milwaukee Bucks is a must, as the Pistons will take their talent on the road in seven of their next ten games (five in a row against the West). Milwaukee has been as hot and cold as Detroit, for most of this season. They’ll trot their 14-15 record into the Palace of Auburn Hills, looking to stifle Detroit’s newfound offensive efficiency they’ve put on display these past two games.
When: December 28th, 7:30 p.m. EST
Where: The Palace of Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills, MI
Watch: Fox Sports Detroit
The name of the game for the Bucks is Giannis Antetokounmpo, and while that name might be difficult for most to spell, and some to pronounce, everyone who follows the NBA knows how devastating the Greek Freak has been so far this season.
Giannis is averaging a team leading 23.4 points, 9.1 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.9 blocks per game. That stat-line is bananas. And if it weren’t for some guy named Russell Westbrook messing around and getting a ton of triple doubles, even passive NBA fans would be praising Antetokounmpo for his stellar start to the season.
The Greek Freak is one of the most dynamic players in the game. He can affect the game on both sides of the ball, and has the ability to play one through five at a highly efficient level. Let’s take a look at some of the ways Giannis is like no other player in the league.
On the break.
Three dribbles, two-thirds of the court covered, one dynamite jam.
One more on the fast break, just cause it’s so good.
Note how their were four Trail Blazers in the paint and Giannis still finished with a finger roll.
Drawing in the defense, unselfishly kicking it to open teammates.
Giannis shadows one of the fastest players in the league, denies John Wall at the rim.
Dellavedova gets blown by, Giannis helps from other side of the floor.
There are plenty of players in the league who are able to do one or two things really well, but there are only a handful of guys who can affect the game in a multitude of areas. Players who have an unnatural athletic ability to defend point guard through center, get to the rim at will, and be a one man wrecking crew on a fast break do not come by very often.
It’s easy to see why the Pistons number one priority is to limit Giannis as much as possible. The Bucks are filled with a bunch of solid players, but they only have one (soon to be) All Star, that is able to create for himself and others. Simply put, if Giannis has a sub-par game, I don’t see how the Bucks will be able to escape with a win.
Reggie Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Marcus Morris, Jon Leuer, Andre Drummond
Matthew Dellavedova, Tony Snell, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, John Henson
Alongside the Pistons new starting lineup, they’ve also shown an improved effort on defense which has lead to a more rhythmic half-court and deadly transition offense. These trends should continue, as there will be a sense of urgency attached to this game, seeing how many road games are in Detroit’s immediate future.
The only thing that could possibly prevent a Pistons win, is if Antetokounmpo has an explosive game (think Anthony Davis at the Palace last season), either that or Detroit’s newfound rhythm magically disappears. Neither of these things should happen.
Detroit 102, Milwaukee 94
What on-court has stood out to you most since Jon Leuer has entered the starting lineup?