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Bucks vs. Pistons Preview: Greg Monroe returns to Motown as Pistons look to stay hot

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Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Bucks109-88 win over the Pistons in Milwaukee two weeks ago may seem like a distant memory by now, but Jason Kidd and company will be hoping for a much-needed encore Friday night when the two teams renew acquaintances in Michigan.

Bucks Update

While the Bucks' offense had ranked in the top half of the league for almost the entirety of the first month of the season, after Wednesday night's toothless 95-70 loss in San Antonio they've fallen all the way down to #22. Add in their 29th ranked defense and there's not much for the Bucks to hang their hat on right now. They do rank sixth in three point percentage (really), sixth in assists per game and eighth in opponent turnover rate, but they've yet to show any hint of consistency on either end of the court. To wit: they've already suffered six 20+ point blowouts in 19 games this season after losing by 20 or more just twice in 82 games a year ago. Third quarter blowouts have been a recurring theme thus far, and Wednesday's loss in San Antonio followed an unfortunately familiar trend. Charles Gardner reports:

"We get it to six, and we've done this before," Bucks coach Jason Kidd said. "Five or six is the magic number for us to stop playing.

"In that third quarter that's what happened. Being young, sometimes we give in to the pressure or to a run instead of trying to answer. And when we do try to answer it's more or less the individual instead of trying to move the ball.

"You look at San Antonio, they gave a great clinic of how to move the ball. When guys aren't shooting the ball extremely well, they continue to move the ball to get a wide-open shot. This is a good tape for us to watch tomorrow."

Wednesday's loss was particularly ugly for Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo (sigh), as the duo combined to shoot just 3/15 from the field and generally couldn't solve San Antonio's bigger defenders. That's been an unfortunate trend for Antetokounmpo, who hasn't broken double digits in the three games since Jason Kidd benched Parker and Michael Carter-Williams in favor of O.J. Mayo and Jerryd Bayless. How much of a step backward is it exactly? Well, consider that Giannis hadn't gone three straight games in single digit scoring since he was a 19-year-old rookie. Yeesh. I'm not sure if the new lineup can be tied to Giannis' struggles per se, but it's worth keeping an eye on.

As for what Kidd plans to do with his backcourt? Well, I'm guessing we'll see at least one change from Wednesday. After blowing out the Nuggets on Monday, Kidd opted to DNP-CD Jerryd Bayless and start Tyler Ennis, who perhaps predictably struggled to do anything against the Spurs' league's best defense. After recording just one assist and two turnovers in 24 minutes in San Antonio, he now has just 11 assists and nine turnovers in 118 minutes this season. I really want Tyler to get some chances to play, but let's be honest: so far he's only really contributed when he's stayed out of the way.

Of course, it's also worth noting that Bayless had come back down to earth in the previous two games before his benching (6/20 fg), and he probably needed a rest given the heavy workload he's had over the past week. But you couldn't help but wonder why Kidd would bench his most consistent guard against the league's best defense, even if Kidd later swore "scout's honor" that he was just resting Bayless and wanted to take a look at Ennis. The fact that Greivis Vasquez continues to be out with an ankle injury and Michael Carter-Williams has been running hot and cold certainly didn't make it any less notable, but here we are.

Pistons Scouting Report

The Pistons have won the first two games of their current four-game homestand, outrunning the Rockets 116-105 on Monday and then outlasting the Suns in overtime 127-122 on Wednesday. While they still rank just 23rd in offensive efficiency, they've been off-the-charts the past two games in no small part due to Reggie Jackson: just two days after scoring 31 with eight assists against the Rockets, he put up 34 points and 16 assists to become the first Piston since Isiah Thomas to post a 30/15 game.

Andre Drummond's three straight 20-10 games have certainly helped as well, while Ersan Ilyasova and Marcus Morris combined for 47 points against the Suns as the Pistons' starters combined for 113 of their 127 points. While the Bucks' bench hasn't been anything to write home about, Detroit's subs have been even worse for the most part, a fact the Bucks saw up close and personal in Milwaukee. The Bucks were also the beneficiaries of a brick-laying night from the Pistons' perimeter shooters two weeks ago, and overall they rank just 24th in three point percentage despite attempting the tenth most threes in the league. Ultimately that may be the deciding factor: Detroit is 4-0 when they hit double-digits in three pointers made, while the Bucks are 1-8 when an opponent hits 10+ threes.

On the Pistons: Detroit Bad Boys | Piston Powered

2015/16 NBA Season
Milwaukee bucks.vc6d60d4
(7-12, 2-8 road)
vs.
Detroit pistons.v852aa2b
(10-9, 6-2 home)
December 4, 2015
The Palace | Auburn Hills, MI
6:30 CT
Fox Sports Wisconsin | 620 WTMJ
Probable Starters
Jerryd Bayless PG Reggie Jackson
O.J. Mayo SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
Khris Middleton SF Marcus Morris
Giannis Antetokounmpo PF Ersan Ilyasova
Greg Monroe C Andre Drummond
2014/15 Advanced Stats
92.0 (30th) Pace 95.6 (21st)
102.8 (21st) ORtg 100.7 (28th)
112.5 (30th) DRtg 100.1 (6th)