The Milwaukee Bucks are rolling, full of gas and bumping over flotsam opponents all along the way; the Detroit Pistons loom as the next speed bump in the road. At this point though, it’s hard to even say the players on the court constitute “the Pistons.”
Where We’re At
Milwaukee rang in the new year in much the same manner last year went — with Giannis Antetokounmpo dominating any and all players on the court. His 35 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists was historic for the MVP, and it bludgeoned a short handed Pelicans squad as part of the 136-113 victory.
Giannis Antetokounmpo passed Minneapolis/Los Angeles #Lakers Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor for 19th all-time in career triple-doubles.— Jim Owczarski (@JimOwczarski) January 2, 2022
He had plenty of help to fill that stat line though, with Jordan Nwora pouring in 23 in limited minutes, Jrue Holiday controlling the game to the tune of 21 points and six assists, plus Grayson Allen notching 16 on 14 shots, his increased aggression the most notable takeaway in the absence of Khris Middleton. Milwaukee emerged on the other side of their COVID-19 absences and remain fairly healthy compared to the rest of the league at the moment.
The Pistons are scuffling, as they have all year. That being said, two wins in their past six games constitute a feel-good stretch for this rebuilding team, especially when those two wins make up a third of your W’s all season-long. Their most recent win was their 117-116 OT win against the Spurs on Saturday evening, featuring a usage feast for Hamidou Diallo and a game-winner for Saddiq Bey.
Saddiq Bey wins it for the Pistons at the OT buzzer pic.twitter.com/KOzcMEcqGT— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) January 2, 2022
Diallo’s 32 shots (and 34 points) is pretty preposterous for someone that low on the roster’s totem pole, but for a team that had to play former Badger Micah Potter 13 minutes, it’s not all that surprising to see an NBA “veteran” like Diallo get up that many jumpers. Thankfully for our entertainment sake, Cade Cunningham has cleared health and safety protocols and should be able to go for this one.
The rest of the Pistons roster is just a mess at this point, and not even all that much due to health and safety protocols. It’s just, well, wow. As of publication, here is who is out for the Pistons: Jerami Grant, Frank Jackson, Cory Joseph, Isaiah Livers, Kelly Olynyk, Trayvon Palmer, Devidas Sirydis, Chris Smith, Cassius Stanley, Isaiah Stewart and Derrick Walton Jr. Yep. And ya, I know I have Cassius Stanley listed as a probable starter...but this roster is beyond ravaged right now.
As for the Bucks, they are without Semi Ojeleye and Thanasis Antetokounmpo due to health and safety protocols. Donte is out after rolling his ankle pregame against the Pelicans, while Khris Middleton is listed as questionable for personal reasons. Hopefully he’ll be able to give this one a go.
Player to Watch
There aren’t all that many intriguing Pistons to keep your eye on, so I suppose I’ll go regional and try to give you some Big Aren connections. Luka Garza (and his eyebrows) dominated at Iowa for years until his 45 years of eligibility ended, forcing him into the NBA Draft. I am doubtful he ever turns into a decent NBA player given his plodding style, but I’m curious what kind of progress he’s made in a few months. I’ll add in Micah Potter for good measure as a Badger connection. He looked decent for the Miami Heat in summer league and ought to be bombing away threes off pick-and-pops if the Pistons are using him in his ideal fashion.
Game 39: Against Detroit, the Bucks will...
This poll is closed
Win big (by 10 or more points)
Win close (by 9 or fewer points)
Lose close (by 9 or fewer points)
Lose big (by 10 or more points)