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Pistons vs. Bucks preview: Milwaukee tuning up for title defense in Detroit

The season’s not over yet

Detroit Pistons v Milwaukee Bucks Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks are going in opposite directions as the season winds down. The Pistons, sitting third from last in the standings, are looking to finish out the season with those valuable top-3 lottery odds.

Milwaukee, the defending NBA champs, are fighting for seeding ... but which seed they’re fighting for is yet to be seen.

Game Vitals

When: 7 p.m. ET
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit / NBA TV
Odds: Pistons +5

Analysis

Play hard, but lose.

That’s the name of the game for the Pistons as they play their home finale against the Bucks tonight. Detroit is in a precarious spot — teetering on lottery eliteness. If the Pistons lose out, they will finish one game “ahead” of the Oklahoma City Thunder for third best odds.

Finishing in the bottom three is important.

That would ensure them a 14% chance at the top pick and a 40% chance at a top three pick with the lowest they could fall in the lottery being seventh. If they fell behind OKC, or tie and lose a coin flip this summer, those odds drop to 12.5% for the top pick, and a 36.6% chance at a top three pick with the lowest they could fall being eighth.

That doesn’t sound like much, and being in the top four is the catbird seat regardless, but a win here or on Sunday puts them in a precarious spot.

Milwaukee is in a weird spot, too:

The Bucks are on the second night of a back to back and don’t really need to play all that hard. They win out, they’re the two seed. They lose out or split, it gets wonky. Annnnd, with the Brooklyn Nets lurking in the play-in game mix, you might not want to be the No. 1 or No. 2 seed if it means you potentially play them in the first round.

It’s possible they rest everyone of note, Giannis Antetokounmpo was a late addition to the injury report today and Grayson Allen and DeAndre’ Bembry are both sitting. Detroit will be without at least Cory Joseph, Marvin Bagley III, Jerami Grant and Hamidou Diallo.

No matter who plays, it’ll be good to see whatever we do see from Killian Hayes, Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart. Personally, I’m interested in seeing more of Isaiah Livers after a rough shooting night against Dallas on Wednesday.

And our last tanking update: OKC is playing tonight as well, traveling to LA to take on the Lakers at 10:30 p.m. ET. They’ve knocked off the LeBronettes a few times this year, for what it’s worth.

Projected Lineups

Detroit Pistons (22-56)

Killian Hayes, Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Livers, Isaiah Stewart

Milwaukee Bucks (50-30)

Jrue Holiday, Wes Matthews, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Brook Lopez

Question of the Game

Which of the non-core Pistons are you most excited to see more of in these final games?