The night we’ve eagerly anticipated since our first day on this planet is finally here!
Will Brandon Jennings play awful or really awful?? Will Brandon Knight be booed or cheered or ignored??? Will more than twenty people watch?!?? So many questions! So little time! But before we get into the deats and tails of tonight’s matchup, let me write a little about the Eastern Conference.
The Eastern Conference is awful. This means at least two things:
- The Milwaukee Bucks, no matter how bad they play, will continue to stay on the bubble of the Eastern Conference playoffs. The Bucks (2-10) are only 2.5 games behind the Detroit Pistons (5-8) for the eighth seed. The Toronto Raptors, who find themselves under .500, are the leaders in the Atlantic Division and the fourth seed in the conference. While these standings will for sure change, the talent in the conference probably won’t.
- Due to this lack of talent, the Bucks will have an easy schedule as they play within the awful conference. The path to a bottom-five record in the league will not be filled with blowout losses to superior opponents. It will take the heart and determination displayed by the team in Friday night’s loss against the Philadelphia 76ers. (Although Saturday night’s blowout loss to the Charlotte Bobcats must have been a good sign to fans cheering for losses.)
Basically, most Eastern Conference matchups are going to be battles to see which team is worse as squads eye the draft lottery in June. Tonight is one of those battles as the Bucks travel to Detroit to face Jennings for the first time. I wonder if he’ll shoot any jump shots …
What to Watch For: Bucks
Emotions will be high as both players go up against the team which drafted them for the first time. Jennings is much more capable of a statement eruption on offense, but look for Knight to be eager to show the little things he can do which Jennings lacks. Like displaying reasonable shot selection and making layups and being six-foot-three and not shooting 30 percent from three. You know … the little things.
What to Watch For: Pistons
Brandon Jennings has not gotten off to a strong start with his new team. After ten games, he averages 15.9 points (37.4 FG%, 30.6 3P%), 7.8 assists, 1.6 steals and 2.8 turnovers in 35.4 minutes per game. On Sunday, he admitted to having lost confidence in his shot. Remember how annoying Jennings used to be to watch play? Now imagine what Pistons fans are going through as they watch him shoot three pointers at a percentage way below his career average. Then factor in that they also have to watch newly acquired Josh Smith heave up three pointers at a 29 percent clip. Geesh. Pray for Detroit.
Time – 6:30 PM Central
TV – FS-Wisconsin
Radio – 620 WTMJ
Bucks: Larry Sanders (thumb; out), Carlos Delfino (foot surgery; out) Luke Ridnour (back; day-to-day)
Pistons: Chauncey Billups (knee tendinitis; day-to-day), Will Bynum (strained left groin; day-to-day), Charlie Villanueva (sore back; day-to-day)
**Disclaimer** – Coach Larry Drew indicated there would be changes to the starting lineup after Saturday night’s embarrassing loss to the Bobcats. The following lineup is an educated guess.
PG Brandon Knight
SG O.J. Mayo
SF Khris Middleton
PF Ersan Ilyasova
C John Henson
PG Brandon Jennings
SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF Josh Smith
PF Greg Monroe
C Andre Drummond
Jeremy’s For Recreational Purposes Only Prediction (aka Betsketball)
Line: Pistons -7.5
If nothing else, the Bucks have been consistently slow this season, especially when playing teams that also limit possessions and emphasize a slower pace. I don’t see why that would change against the Pistons, who also play a fairly tame pace. While Milwaukee’s new lineup and increased depth could alter this a bit over the next few games, I still expect a slow pace and two inefficient offenses to rule the day.
Both Milwaukee and Detroit have been massive disappointments early on this season. Some thought the Pistons had transformed into a second tier (no Indiana or Miami, but there with the Knicks as a top five or six team) team last summer. But Jennings/Smith/Drummond/Monroe haven’t been the fit that Joe Dumars and company had hoped. The only thing I’m fairly certain about, is that this will be not be a beautiful game.
But it’s hard to believe it’ll be a blowout and a terrible game. I expected Detroit to be favored by four or five and I thought the line would be closer to 181. All that being said, I’ll take Milwaukee +7.5 and under 191.
(Quick note: I did not do the prediction you say later in this preview, that explains the inconsistency there. Jon thinks otherwise on a blowout tonight and we’ll fight to the death.)
Record: 5-1 (2-1 ATS and 3-0 over/under)
Choose the Form of the Destructor: Andre Drummond
Mixed within the disgusting shot selection from Jennings and Smith and dreadful defense from Greg Monroe is the wonderful Drummond. A second-year pro out of the University of Connecticut, Drummond seems to be on track to become a dominant center in the league. He combines great athleticism with great size to be a beast at offense and rebounds. So far this season, he averages 12.3 points, 12.8 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. He’s developed decent pick-and-roll chemistry with Jennings, so look for him to finish at least a few alley-oops against the Bucks’ questionable interior defense without Larry Sanders.
Prediction: Pistons 95 – Bucks 82