The Milwaukee Bucks haven’t stepped onto the court to play a game since last Saturday in New York. The game Wednesday night against the Pistons will be their first chance to move past the ugly 136-134 overtime loss that came in New York against the woeful 8-17 Knicks. The Bucks, who have now lost 3 of their last 5 games, must protect home court against a Detroit Pistons team that has played well so far this season. Milwaukee, with a 15-7 record, currently holds the 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, just 3.5 games behind the first place Toronto Raptors. Detroit is currently fourth in the Eastern Conference with a 13-8 record.
The Pistons get most of their production from their big men. Of the five main statistical categories (points, rebounds, assists, blocks, and steals), either Andre Drummond or Blake Griffin lead the Pistons on a per game basis. Drummond leads in three of those categories, averaging 16.4 rebounds per game, 1.4 steals per game, and 1.9 blocks per game. Griffin leads the Pistons in points per game and assists per game, averaging 24.9 and 5.1 respectively.
Milwaukee, who still lead the NBA in offensive efficiency, is led by MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo. Giannis leads the Bucks in points per game, rebounds per game, assists per game, and steals per game. He averages 27.6 points, 13.2 rebounds, 6 assists, and 1.5 steals. The problem at times for the Bucks is finding the second player that can help take the pressure off of Giannis down the stretch. Against the Knicks on Saturday, Khris Middleton was benched for the fourth quarter and overtime, which took away a snipe shooter for Milwaukee to rely on in crunch time. Often times, Milwaukee relies on Giannis too much down the stretch to create his own shot or create a shot for one of his teammates. Khris Middleton has to step up if the Bucks want to be more efficient down the stretch in close games.
Detroit is 4-4 on the road and Milwaukee is 11-2 at home. Milwaukee is very difficult to beat on their home floor, especially if they get off to a good start. In both of Milwaukee’s home losses, they trailed after the first quarter. Due to how poorly the Bucks played in their last game against the Knicks, I will be stunned if they don’t come out of the gate with a lot of energy. High energy from the Bucks usually leads to good basketball, and that’s what I expect in this game. Detroit did not look good Monday night at home against the Thunder, as they lost by 27 points. Drummond could cause Milwaukee problems, but I expect Giannis to give him some fits down in the paint due to his length. The Bucks will continue to need production from guards Malcolm Brogdon and Eric Bledsoe. Both are averaging just over 15 points a game, and I expect both of them to play well against Detroit. Milwaukee averages 122.6 points per game when playing at home, and I don’t see Detroit keeping up with Milwaukee in the scoring column. Giannis, Drummond, and Griffin all go for double doubles, and Milwaukee wins 120-112.