Milwaukee begins their playoff series tomorrow with homecourt advantage throughout the postseason. They will match up against the eighth seeded Detroit Pistons. After two seasons watching the playoffs from home, the Pistons will be the underdog in this series. We decided to reach out to Detroit Bad Boys, the Pistons SBNation affiliate, to discuss expectations, keys for either side, and a prediction for the series.
What has been the biggest story for your season?
The biggest story of the season has been Blake Griffin returning to All-Star form while at the same time being a radically different player than he was when he was 25 years old. Griffin played a point forward role in Detroit, trying to juice an offense desperate for life. He provided the gravity that allowed some admittedly marginal players to flourish while also turning into a quality 3-point shooter that could complement Andre Drummond perfectly.
Speaking of Drummond, whether through natural progression, or the mentorship and example of Blake, Andre has taken the next long-awaited step in his career. Since Jan. 25, Drummond has a true shooting percentage of 61.1, a net rating of +9.7 and averaging 17.3 points, 15.6 rebounds and 1.7 apiece of steals and blocks.
The Pistons have plenty of questions going into the offseason whether they get swept, or steal a couple of games from Milwaukee. But what they’ve proven is that Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond can be the foundation of a really competitive team.
What are the keys for the Pistons to win?
Ummmm – really, we’re going to do this? OK, well, I’m not bringing health or possible injury into this. I am hoping the Bucks go to the finals so we’ll keep this thing on the up-and-up. The key for the Pistons to win ONE or TWO games will be the complementary players not hitting the bountiful amount of open shots they will surely receive.
I’m sure the Pistons plan to sell out on Giannis, and packing the paint with Drummond and whomever else is available. If Brook Lopez goes cold and Khris Middleton goes frigid, then suddenly the Bucks might not have the movement or playmaking they need to generate other offense.
Detroit’s offensive priorities are going to be Blake being at least 80 percent of himself, and on a 40-percent-plus streak from deep. Langston Galloway goes hot and cold from deep, and he needs to be nuclear off the bench. Then it’s all about Drummond racking up 20-20 games and getting a few blocks and steals a game.
What are the keys for the Bucks to win?
Remembering what got them here, I suppose. They have a perfect system, a star you can’t really scheme against and quality defenders all over the floor. It’d help if Thon Maker was forced to be the starting power forward …. oh, wait. Crap.
Besides Giannis, who is the biggest threat for Milwaukee? Who is Detroit’s x-factor?
Ironically, I think it might be Brook Lopez. He is a notorious Pistons killer throughout his career, and big men who get hot from deep totally take Drummond out of his game. He gets indecisive about how aggressive to show onto the perimeter and gets himself in no man’s land where he can’t rebound or contest shots. Detroit’s biggest x-factor might be second-year player Luke Kennard. He has all these tools and a deadly shot that he displays infrequently. He’s just not as aggressive or comfortable as he needs to be. I always say there is no such thing as a bad Luke Kennard shot, and its closer to true than you’d think. He has a knack for finding space and he’s got a hell of a soft touch.
What is your prediction for this series?
Well, look, there’s a talking point that the Pistons haven’t won a playoff game in over 10 years. I’d like that to go away. Plus, Brandon Jennings is something of an adopted folk hero for Pistons fans who have suffered over the past decade, so in honor of him let’s say “Bucks in six.”
We thank Detroit Bad Boys for giving us their thoughts on the series, make sure to follow their content at detroitbadboys.com or on twitter @detroitbadboys. Let us know who will be the x-factor and what each side has to do to win this opening round series.