To say that the 2018-19 version of Pistons vs. Bucks has been a mismatch would be disrespectful to the meaning of the word and the English language. Detroit has lost all three encounters to the deer, with an average margin of defeat of 16 points per game. Detroit was also blown out in embarrassing fashion twice on the road.
Their only single-digit loss, back on Dec. 17 at Little Caesars Arena, was due to a Milwaukee near-collapse in the second half, where the Bucks established a 15-point third quarter lead before the Pistons made an impressive comeback only to lose by three in the final moments of the game.
And while the Pistons have seemingly ran face-first into their annual winter wall once again, going 8-20 since early December, they’re still in arms reach of the playoffs. Detroit currently sits 9th in the JV conference, just three games back of the 7th-seeded Miami Heat, and four and a half games back of the 6th-place Brooklyn Nets. A stunning upset against league’s top team (by record) could go a long way for club morale, possibly boosting the team to a much-needed run before the All-Star break.
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, MI
When: Tuesday, 7:00 P.M. EST
Watch: Fox Sports Detroit, NBA League Pass
Line: DET +6.5
Surprisingly enough, one-man wrecking crew and MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo has not been the main catalyst to the Bucks dissection of the Pistons this season. Antetokounmpo is averaging “only” 20.7 points and nine rebounds against Detroit - which is roughly six points and three rebounds less per game compared to his season averages.
Mind you, he’s shooting more efficiently from the field through these three games, allowing others to pick up production around him. Also important to note, when you’re in the midst of a blowout, and you’re an MVP candidate, you typically aren’t playing as much (five minutes less per game vs. Detroit) or trying to go hammer dudes into the rim once the game is comfortably in-hand.
Two players whose production has picked against Detroit are Eric Bledsoe and Khris Middleton. Bledsoe is averaging 20.7 points and 6.3 assists against the Pistons, both higher than his season averages. Ex-Piston (*cries) Middleton is averaging 22 points per game in this match-up, compared to 17.4 ppg for the season.
The fact of the matter is, the Bucks give the Pistons match-up nightmares across the board. They have a big who can space the floor in Brook Lopez, which has always been the bane of Andre Drummond’s existence. They have an athletic, strong, and bouncy point guard in Bledsoe who can find his way into the paint, finish, or create for others once he’s gotten past human revolving door Reggie Jackson. They run out a long, tall small forward who’s an excellent 3-point shooter in Middleton, giving Giannis all the space he needs to operate. And then you have Giannis doing Giannis things ... like this ...
or this ...
Giannis bullied Blake pic.twitter.com/bOK6U2XO3n— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 6, 2018
or this ...
If Detroit is going to find a way to win, they’ll need to lean on Blake Griffin once again and hope that he’s able to produce like he has this entire month. Griffin is averaging a backbreaking 31 points and 5.5 assists, while shooting 52 percent from the floor and 37 percent from 3 for the month of January. But needing Griffin to play well is a given at this point.
Detroit will also need their “shooters,” and believe me, I use that term loosely, to shoot more often and more efficiently to steal a win. Luke Kennard’s averages against the Bucks - 4.3 points per game, 30 percent 3-point shooting (on only three attempts per game) won’t cut it. Langston Galloway’s 3.3 points on 17 percent 3-point shooting certainly won’t be enough either. Reggie Bullock has put up an impressive line against the Bucks in both games he’s played, but he’s doubtful for tonight’s game after twisting his ankle against the Mavericks. Hey, maybe the Glenn Robinson III from 2017 will show up tonight.
TLDR; Gon’ be tough sledding for Detroit.
Detroit Pistons (21-27)
Reggie Jackson, Bruce Brown Jr., Stanley Johnson, Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond
Milwaukee Bucks (35-13)
Eric Bledsoe, Malcolm Brogdon, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Brook Lopez
Detroit escapes a blowout, but still holds the L.
Milwaukee 110, Detroit 100