The NBA is all sorts of scary these days. Franchises and front offices from Brooklyn to San Antonio to Los Angeles and everywhere in between are shivering and quivering from fright about what terrible twist fate has in store for them next. The Milwaukee Bucks, so far at least, have been mercifully exempted from this curse, as everything is going “full size Snickers bars” since the beginning of the regular season. Tonight’s opponent is another Central Division foe – the Detroit Pistons – who come to town for a pair of games at Fiserv Forum, and the Bucks stand a solid chance of extending their season-starting winning streak all the way out to seven games. Scary hours, indeed.
(OK, I’ve exhausted myself of the attempts at making Halloween puns. The rest of this is a normal game preview, I swear it.)
Where We’re At
The Bucks are undefeated. Brook Lopez looks like a Defensive Player of the Year candidate. And Giannis Antetokounmpo? Let him put it in his words:
Things are going pretty well, despite still missing Khris Middleton (wrist surgery), Pat Connaughton (calf injury), and Joe Ingles (ACL recovery). The offense is ugly and often stalls out, but the defense is in tip-top shape. Having a healthy Brook and a Giannis-y Giannis, not to mention the dynamic duo of Jrue Holiday and spot-starter Jevon Carter, gives the team a great foundation, but the schematic shifts that took affect in training camp have paid early dividends.
Positive early returns on Bucks reducing their overhelping: they've dramatically cut highest-value 3FGA w/o allowing more at rim— Frank Madden (@fmaddenNBA) October 31, 2022
Wide open 3: from 20.3 (last) to 13.2 (#2)
Catch&shoot 3: from 29.0 (last) to 17.0 (#1)
Corner 3: from 8.9 (#18) to 4.0 (#1)
Payoff: 5-0 + #1 in DRTG
It’s still early, but Milwaukee has a double-digit positive net rating (+10.1) despite having decidedly “meh” offensive metrics across the board. We’re also still in the middle of a lengthy home stand, things won’t be this rosy for the Bucks for long...but for now, it’s a welcome environment to stay in for a bit longer.
Detroit, on the other hand, continues their rebuild. Sophomore star Cade Cunningham has shown growth early on, but the Pistons haven’t found success in the win column so far. They are coming off a victory against the defending champions yesterday, which looks good in the standings but was hard-fought according to fans. From Detroit Bad Boys:
Detroit needed every ounce of juice from the starters because the bench continued to struggle, and suffered another injury when rookie Jalen Duren left the game in the fourth quarter after rolling his ankle after landing on Hamidou Diallo’s foot after blocking a shot. Duren needed to be helped to the locker room and it is unclear how much time the big man might miss.
In terms of news, leading scorer Bojan Bogdanović just signed a nice extension with the team. In terms of health, Marvin Bagley III (knee) and Alec Burks (foot) will miss this one, and rookie Jalen Duren left their game last night early with a possible injury. Beyond that, what you see is what you get with the Pistons, which might be something formidable in the future. Eventually.
Player To Watch
We haven’t talked as much about Bobby Portis as we otherwise ought to since the season began. Averaging a double-double (13.0 points and 10.2 rebounds) per game off the bench, Bobby is firmly entrenched as the Bucks’ third big, but his impact is too easy to overlook when compared to Giannis’ transcendence and Brook’s defensive sturdiness. But Bobby has been a buoy for bench units over the first five games, reprising a role he is well-suited for. There isn’t much to be concerned about in terms of matchups on Detroit’s bench, so Portis ought to enjoy a productive night on the stat sheet.
Game 6: 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)