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Pistons vs. Bucks preview: Detroit looks to avenge previous close loss to Milwaukee

Detroit will play their second consecutive and final game in Milwaukee for the season

Detroit Pistons v Milwaukee Bucks Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

As a reward for Monday night’s valiant two-point loss, Detroit will face the 6-0 Milwaukee Bucks for the second time in three nights. This will mark the Pistons’ final outing as visitors against the Bucks, with the remaining two matchups scheduled for Little Caesars Arena in the new year.

Following a pair of thrilling outings against the league’s two most recent champs in the Warriors and the Bucks, Cade Cunningham and company will need to bring their A-game tonight. While Detroit has shown some growth following a choppy start, championship-level teams often throttle young squads like the Pistons following an unexpectedly tight contest.

Tonight’s contest provides the perfect measuring stick for Detroit to demonstrate their internal growth. Another combative performance could symbolize the roster is turning the proverbial corner.

Game Vitals

When: 8 p.m. ET
Where: Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons +11


3 Things to Watch

1. Jaden Ivey as the primary option

After sharing the majority of court-time with Cade Cunningham through his brief tenure, Jaden Ivey found himself as the primary offensive option for a pair of six-minute stretches in Tuesday night’s meeting with the Bucks.

Prior to a non-COIVID illness, Dwane Casey elected to hitch Ivey alongside Cunningham for the majority of their minutes. Ivey rewarded his coach’s rotation change and having the ball in his hands, scoring 11 points (6-of-9) and registering a plus-minus of +6 in 12 non-Cade minutes on Monday night.

While it’s important that Ivey and Cunningham play minutes alongside one another for development purposes, each player has the juice to power an offense for solo-bouts. By staggering the young guards, Detroit has the ammunition to apply 48 minutes of more consistent pressure to opposing defenses.

2. Will Detroit ever stop Brook Lopez?

Rewind all the way back to New Year’s Eve 2008 and a fresh faced 20-year-old by the name of Brook Lopez dropped 23 points and 12 boards at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

Originally renowned for his elegant repertoire of post moves, the now 34-year-old Lopez has completely transformed his game, trading 5-foot hook shots for a diet consisting mostly of 23-footers. Though his means to attack has changed, his penchant for dominating the Pistons has remained.

In 32 career matchups, Lopez averages 17.1 points and 2.1 swats against Detroit. His protection of the painted area has been a hindrance to Detroit’s offenses for years. You only have to think back to Game 3 of the 2019 playoffs where Lopez embarrassed then starting center Andre Drummond’s lack of finishing ability with his supreme rim protection.

On Tuesday night, like clockwork, Lopez played his best game of the young campaign, knocking down outside looks, crashing his own glass and protecting the rim.

Limiting Lopez has to be a priority for the Piston coaching staff, he’s a major reason in why Detroit have lost 14 of their past 15 games verses the Bucks.

Detroit Pistons v Milwaukee Bucks Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

3. Cade Cunningham

Cade seems to have figured out that in order for Detroit to have a shot at winning, he’s got to shoot, and shoot often. Across his previous four outings, Cunningham has increased his field goal attempts from 17.5 to 22.8. The surge in shot attempts has resulted in the 21-year-old assembling his best scoring stretch as a pro, blasting opponents with a cool 27.8 points a night.

While Cunningham entered the league as a cerebral talent who performed at his own pace, his last week of play would indicate a new-found level of comfortability with the ball in his hands. In Tuesday’s game, Cunningham controlled the Detroit attack from start to finish, persevering against a stout Bucks defense and almost leading his team to the unlikeliest of victories.

Armed with the deadliest of pull-up jumpers, Cunningham’s play-style and current form strongly suggest another star-like performance against the Bucks tonight.

Detroit Pistons v Milwaukee Bucks Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

Projected Lineup

Detroit Pistons (2-6)

Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Saddiq Bey, Bojan Bogdanovic, Isaiah Stewart

Milwaukee Bucks (6-0)

Jrue Holiday, Jevon Carter, Grayson Allen, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Brook Lopez

Question of the Game

What would it take for Cade Cunningham to become an All-Star this season?