Bucks/Pistons: Preview

Bucks (11-18, 2-14 road, 11th East) @ Pistons (23-7, 12-2 home, 2nd East)

Gametime: 2:30 pm CT
TV: League Pass/Free NBA Broadband
Radio: 620 WTMJ/Stream Free @NBA.com

Bucks Stats: Offense 17th (101.3 pts/100 poss), Defense 27th (106.6), Rebounding 13th (.505 rr), Pace 19th (93.5)
Pistons Stats: Offense 3rd (108.9 pts/100 poss), Defense 3rd (99.0), Rebounding 10th (.508 rr), Pace 30th (91.0)

Bucks Lineup: Mo Williams / Michael Redd / Bobby Simmons / Yi Jianlian / Andrew Bogut
Pistons Lineup: Chauncey Billups / Richard Hamilton / Tayshaun Prince / Antonio McDyess / Rasheed Wallace

Bucks Injuries: Desmond Mason is out 6-8 weeks with a torn ligament in his left thumb. David Noel is out with a wrist injury.  
Pistons Injuries: None really.

07/08 Series: Pistons 1-0. The Pistons came into the Bradley Center and crushed the Bucks 117-91 on Dec. 1. While the Bucks shot 55.7 % from the field, they converted only 42.1 % from the free-throw line, and Michael Redd led the starters with only 11 points in 35 minutes.

Key Points:

  • The Pistons are coming off a 98-92 win over the Pacers, the second time in as many days they beat Indiana, in a home-and-home set. The Bucks most recently lost to the Nets, 97-95. (Frank's recap)
  • The Bucks and Pistons are geographically close, and reside in the Central Division. The similarities stop there.  The Bucks have lost three in a row and five of six. After falling to the Pistons to open December, they are looking for their fifth win of the month as they close December against the Pistons. On the other hand, the Pistons have won eight in a row and 15 of 17. After rocking the Bucks to open the month, they are looking for their 15th win of month.
  • No team in the East has lost more games on the road, 14, than the Bucks this year. They bring their futile road play to The Palace, where the Pistons have the third best home record in the NBA, at 12-2.
  • The Pistons are the slowest-paced team in the NBA, meaning they average the fewest amount of possessions per game of any team. Of course, they are highly efficient on the offensive end, leading them to average more points than the Bucks despite their slow-down style.
  • So, what's the formula for beating such a powerhouse? There's no simple one, for sure. Mike and Mo could go nuts and pull off the shocker. Still, this one is going to require a team effort. Bogut has only scored 20 points once this month. If the Bucks find a way to establish him as a scoring presence early, it will reduce the pressure on Mike and Mo to pitch perfect games in order to win. And if the Bucks find themselves in a close game down the stretch, they obviously need better execution in the clutch. The Bucks have won only one fourth quarter in their last ten games. In the Pistons' seven losses this year, they have not won the fourth quarter once.
  • Who really thought Desmond Mason would be so irreplaceable? Bobby Simmons has started the past three games in place of the derailed Cowboy and the results haven't been pretty, to say the least. In the three games, all losses, Simmons has averaged 3.3 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 0.3 assists in 23 minutes. In that span, he's shooting 28.5 % from the field, is 0-1 on three-pointers, and 2-2 from the free throw line. For the year, Simmons is shooting 40.2 % from the field, 28.0 % from outside, and has made only 18 free throws in 524 minutes. He's also averaging 2.7 rebounds, 1.0 assist, and 0.1 blocks. Throw in the fact that Simmons is a below average defensive player, and what results is not starting material. It's too bad because we all know two years ago he was a rising star in the organization. But in what should be his prime at 27 years old, he appears to have his best days behind him. Then again, he's historically performed much better as a starter, is coming off a major injury and has only three starts to his name this season. I can't blame Coach Krystkowiak for going with Simmons. There aren't any better options, and I wanted to see him get a chance when Mason went down. He did have one of his best games of the season against the Pistons, scoring 13 points on 5-9 shooting, along with three assists and two steals. Hopefully he can have at least repeat that performance, and in the process give him a jumpstart for 2008.
  • As usual, the Pistons have one of the most balanced rosters in the NBA. To illustrate, Michael Redd averages 12.3 more points than third leading scorer, Andrew Bogut. Meanwhile, leading Piston scorer Richard Hamilton averages 12.4 more points than ninth leading scorer, Rodney Stuckey. While Stuckey hasn't played much, the underlying point remains: the Pistons are deep, and the Bucks are not. No one in the Pistons' vaunted starting lineup ranks in the top 50 in minutes played. Redd ranks 16th and Williams 35th in that department.
  • Staying on the same subject, the Pistons don't have a top 40 scorer, top 30 rebounder, or top 20 shot-blocker. The Bucks do.
  • For more coverage of tonight's opponent, check out Need4Sheed, Detroit Bad Boys, and PistonsNationBlog.
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