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Pistons vs. Buck Preview: Matchup may come down to a battle for the boards

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Pistons have been struggling on the glass during their losing streak, but so have the Bucks.

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Milwaukee Bucks Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

December basketball games ≠ must-win games. But why does tonight’s contest against the Milwaukee Bucks feel like a must-win game?

Ever since the Pistons visited the league leading Boston Celtics back on November 27, they’ve lost three of their last four, and the only three games where they’ve played against quality opponents.

These losses include an 18-point shellacking handed to them by the John Wall-less Washington Wizards, a five point loss to the Sixers, a game that featured Ben Simmons scoring a whopping five points, and another close loss to the San Antonio Spurs, who were without their best player in Kawhi Leonard.

The Pistons are finally on the tail end of an extremely difficult portion of their schedule, in which they’ve played against teams currently in the playoffs in nine of their last ten games. A road win against the middling Milwaukee Bucks seems vital, as Little Caesars Arena welcomes the Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics in the two games that follow.

Game Vitals

When: Wednesday, December 6th at 8:00pm EST

Where: The Bradley Center, Milwaukee, WI

Watch: Fox Sports Detroit

Analysis

This game may come down to one simple area. Whoever grabs the most boards, wins. The Pistons have been out-rebounded in each of their last three games, losing the battle on the glass by an average of 12 rebounds per game.

Luckily for Detroit, they’ll be playing against the league’s worst rebounding team in the Milwaukee Bucks, who only muster 38 rebounds a game. But don’t get it twisted, Detroit is a bottom tier rebounding team themselves (23rd in the NBA), even with the best rebounder in the league. Andre Drummond is grabbing over one third of the Pistons rebounds, and frankly put, he needs help.

From the Pistons vs. Spurs game, Rudy Gay corrals the offensive rebound over Tobias Harris who fails to box out, leading to an open bucket for Tony Parker.

From the Wizards game, Markieff Morris gets position on Anthony Tolliver, leading to a wide open look for Otto Porter.

From the Sixers game, Amir Johnson, out-hustles Tobias Harris and Reggie Jackson, and kicks it out to a waiting Robert Covington.

Notice a trend here? Detroit Muscle isn’t looking too muscular these days. If the Pistons want to sustain success for the entirety of the 2017-18 campaign, not just the first quarter of the season, they’ll have to improve on the glass and give Andre Drummond a little bit of help.

Of course trying to contain the MVP candidate Giannis Antentounkoumpo should be a part of the Pistons game plan, as he’s averaging 30 points, 10 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game, but that goal isn’t something Detroit can simply strategize for and have it be successful. The Pistons can renew focus, and channel their energy on the glass, in the hopes that more shots Avery Bradley, Tobias Harris and Reggie Jackson, and fewer opportunities for Giannis will lead to a Detroit W.

Prediction

Detroit 106, Milwaukee 99