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Pistons vs. Bucks preview: The early season gauntlet continues against Giannis and friends

The difficult early season schedule continues for the Pistons as they face the Milwaukee Bucks again on the eve of Thanksgiving

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Detroit Pistons Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

If you thought there was an end in sight for the Pistons in regards to their early-season schedule, you thought wrong. Granted, a team that was supposed to be near the bottom of the standings was bound to have any schedule look difficult because there aren’t a lot of teams in the league they are better than, but the Pistons early-season schedule would be considered difficult for any team.

The Pistons will have to have short-term memory about their 4th quarter collapse against Miami last night, their 2nd game in a row in which they blew a big 4th quarter lead. And there is no better team to do that against than the defending Champion Milwaukee Bucks.

Game Vitals

When: 8 p.m. ET
Where: Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons +14

Game Analysis

The Pistons have not won a game against the Milwaukee Bucks since the 2017-18 season. That wouldn’t be that crazy if it was a Western Conference team the Pistons only play a couple times a year, but this is against a divisional opponent who the Pistons are facing four times a season. The Pistons have lost 11 straight regular season games against the Bucks, 15 if you include the playoff sweep in 2018-19.

The Pistons are a bad team and the Bucks are a good team, so this probably isn’t going to change tonight. The Pistons already faced the Bucks this season and lost 117-89. The Bucks were short-handed in that one without Khris Middleton, Jrue Holliday, or Brook Lopez. To put it lightly, we are probably looking at another beat down.

Kris Middleton and Jrue Holliday are both back, and Giannis Antetokounmpo is going to play in this one, which is all the Bucks really need to beat the Pistons. The Pistons have struggled to guard both Anthony Davis and Bam Adebayo in their last two games without Isaiah Stewart, and they will once again be without Stewart as he serves the second of his two-game suspension. That means Giannis is going to feast and there isn’t really a matchup the Pistons can put on him to try to slow him down.

The Pistons will likely task Jerami Grant with that role, and while he has the length to deal with Giannis, he doesn’t have the strength to deal with the former MVP. And outside of Grant, the big man gauntlet of Trey Lyles and Luka Garza is not going to offer much resistance.

The Pistons started Garza in last night’s game against the Heat, and I don’t think you will be able to get away with playing him if Brook Lopez does not start, which is unlikely, as he is a game-time decision. Garza fouled a lot against Miami because he couldn’t keep up with Adebayo, and it will likely be more disastrous if he has to deal with Bobby Portis and Giannis. Portis isn’t an athletic freak or anything, but you have to have somebody at the center position that can move a bit because Jerami Grant won’t be able to take Giannis by himself.

I am sure Garza will play, as the Pistons don’t really have a ton of options, but I would expect Trey Lyles to start because he has a bit more mobility defensively.

None of the above even gets into Khris Middleton or Jrue Holliday, who the Pistons don’t really have an answer for either. Khris Middleton has been a Piston-killer ever since the Pistons traded him to the Bucks in the Brandon Jennings trade. As Middleton has gotten better, his Piston-killing vendetta has only grown. The Pistons will probably throw all of Saddiq Bey, Hamidou Diallo, and Josh Jackson at him to try to slow him down, but I don’t think that will be enough.

I would anticipate that the Bucks put Holliday on Cade Cunningham, which could give him some problems on offense. He had arguably his worst game of the season last night against the Heat, and he could be in for another rough one if the Bucks decide to put Holliday on him.

The Pistons have played two straight games in which they outplayed a superior opponent in the first 3 quarters only to blow the lead in the 4th quarter and lose. With how poorly the Pistons have played against the Bucks in recent history, I would not expect them to hold a lead at any point in this game.

Projected Lineups

Milwaukee Bucks (10-8)
Jrue Holliday, Grayson Allen, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bobby Portis

Detroit Pistons (4-13)
Cory Joseph, Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey, Jerami Grant, Trey Lyles

Question of the Day

Do you think the Pistons losing streak against the Bucks will end at some point this season?