Game 59 Preview: Bucks vs. Pistons

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Enemy: Piston Powered

Point Guard
Brandon Jennings vs. Rodney Stuckey

Stuckey is slowly turning into a better basketball player, if not a better point guard in his fourth season in the NBA.  His assist and usage rates have evened out, but he’s certainly far from a traditional pass first point guard.  Where Stuckey has excelled this season is in getting to the line.  He’s shooting more free throws than ever and converting at a career high 86.8% clip.  With his size and strength, free throws should be a lucrative source for points throughout the rest of  his career.  His size certainly is liable to cause some problems for the much smaller Jennings.  Jennings will likely try and use his quickness to harass Stuckey into some easy turnovers with full court pressure.

Advantage: Pistons

Shooting Guard
John Salmons vs. Ben Gordon

It’s been a rough two years in Detroit for Gordon.  He’s floated in and out of the starting lineup, unsure of his role and unstable with his shot.  The one-time sharpshooter has seen his three-point percentage climb back up to 39% this season after a career worst 32.1% effort last season, but still isn’t as accurate as he once was.  The shooting struggles have combined with fewer shots and decreased minutes to leave Gordon overpaid and going nowhere.  Kind of like this season’s John Salmons.  The one time Bulls teammates have even more in common now than they did when they were lighting up the Boston Celtics in the 2009 Playoffs.

Advantage: Bucks

Small Forward
Carlos Delfino vs. Austin Daye

To the untrained Pistons eye, it sure seems like Detroit should have been as active as possible in trying to unload the old Tayshaun Prince over the past two seasons with another version of him, less talented, but similar, ready and waiting.  At 6-11, Daye has underwhelmed as a rebounder but fared quite well as a three-point shooter this season for Detroit.  As he puts on muscle it’s possible he’ll be more willing to fight it out on the defensive glass, but that’s typically a mindset for a player rather than a physical development.  He has some solid talents and at this juncture, threatens the Bucks primarily as a shooter, similar to Delfino.

Advantage: Pistons

Power Forward
Luc Mbah a Moute vs. Chris Wilcox

This is the kind of game where Mbah a Moute loses value to the Bucks.  Detroit doesn’t have a scorer Milwaukee needs to key on and Mbah a Moute isn’t enough of a threat offensively against the Pistons porous defense.  It helps to have Mbah a Moute around, but in these situations, it would be ideal if he weren’t forced into a starting role.  This is why he’s largely a role player right now in his career still.  If he were on the bench, he may not play more than 15 minutes in this game if Milwaukee had a competent other option.   And yet, I’d still rather he were starting than Chris Wilcox.

Advantage: Bucks

Larry Sanders vs. Greg Monroe

Monroe has been a constant for the turbulent Pistons over the past two months, averaging better than 30 minutes and making more than 59% of his shots while averaging a near double-double.  He’s been one of the better rookies not named Blake Griffin, despite having to wait a while this season before being given a shot.  Sanders has a ways to go, but should see his minutes sky-rocket as long as Andrew Bogut is out of the lineup.  Bogut’s out for Tuesday’s game and his status going forward is undetermined.

Advantage: Pistons

Corey Maggette, Earl Barron, Keyon Dooling, Earl Boykins and Jon Brockman


Jason Maxiell, Will Bynum, Charlie Villanueva and DaJuan Summers

The veteran mutiny in Detroit has its advantages: namely a shortened roster.  Almost every player on the Pistons roster averages double figure minutes, making for a cloudy playing time situation resulting in no consistent rotation and more players unhappy with their minutes than the opposite.  Having Ben Wallace away from the team and the combination of Rip Hamilton/Tayshaun Prince being held out/injured, gives the Pistons a shortened bench full of players ready to contribute.  They are dangerous, more dangerous than their record indicates right now.

Advantage: Pistons

Prediction: Pistons 89 – Bucks 82

Without Bogut, defense may be an issue for Milwaukee.  Offensively their survive fine without their struggling center, but the Bucks kind of fine isn’t the kind of fine that wins basketball games in the NBA.  How they respond defensively without their centerpiece will be the story that tells whether they win or lose this evening.

Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog  Follow him on Twitter.  Then become a fan on Facebook (in the sidebar).

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