What to Watch For: Bucks (9-7)
Detroit is as familiar an opponent as it gets at this point, as these teams have already met twice in the last three weeks. Friday marks the second matchup in four days after the Bucks handled the Pistons 98-86 at the House That Yi Built on Tuesday night.
Brandon Knight had one of his best performances of the season in that game, putting up 20 points (7-12 FG, 3-5 3Pt) and eight assists, with only two turnovers. Knight also helped to limit D.J. Augustin, starting in place of the injured Brandon Jennings, to 11 points (4-11 FG) and five turnovers in a game-high 37 minutes.
In the first matchup, however, Knight was a bit more erratic, committing five turnovers of his own, including one with less than 10 seconds remaining. I’m not saying Knight was bad in that game – he wasn’t; he finished with 17 points, nine assists and six rebounds – but he made one too many careless plays, and turning the ball over five times is a difference-maker in a three-point loss. Coming off of a poor shooting performances against the Timberwolves, Knight’s patience and decision-making will go a long way toward determining Friday’s outcome.
Aside from Knight, Giannis Antetokounmpo is the other guy on which to keep a close eye. Giannis turned in a so-so nine-point, five-rebound performance in the first meeting with Detroit and followed up with arguably the worst offensive performance of his career Tuesday, finishing with two points on 1-of-13 shooting. It’s difficult to gather many positives from a line like that, but one thing worth noting is that Giannis never appeared discouraged as shot after shot rolled off the rim. He kept attacking well into the fourth quarter, and Jason Kidd had the confidence to leave him out there for 31 minutes. It will be interesting to see how Giannis changes his approach against Josh Smith, who showed he’s long enough and quick enough to thwart those long-stride, hanging dribble-drive moves that have worked well against smaller and slower defenders this season.
What to Watch For: Pistons (3-12)
When you’re rolling out a front line of Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe and Josh Smith, rebounding should never, ever, be an issue. Drummond might be the best rebounding center in the game, and Smith and Monroe comprise one of the NBA’s two or three tallest forward tandems, checking in at 6-9 and 6-11, respectively.
While Detroit ranks seventh in rebounds per game (44.3), the Pistons were out-rebounded 50-36 against Milwaukee on Tuesday, including 19-8 on the offensive glass. To the literal big three’s credit, Drummond, Monroe and Smith combined for 28 of those 36 rebounds, but still, a 14-rebound margin against a Bucks team that played Zaza Pachulia at center for 18 minutes is unacceptable. Ersan had nine rebounds, for crying out loud! Detroit also lost the rebounding battle Wednesday against the Clippers, the NBA’s second-worst rebounding team.
Time – 6:30 p.m. CST TV – FS-Wisconsin Radio – 620 WTMJ
Choose the Form of the Destructor: Spencer Dinwiddie
Andre Drummond is probably the correct answer here, considering he torched the Bucks for 23 points on 11-of-15 shooting Tuesday, but no one likes redundancy, so we’ll go with the rookie out of Colorado for one reason, and one reason only: THAT STACHE.
It’s November, so more players than usual are giving facial hair a try, with varying degrees of success, but don’t mistake Dinwiddie’s lip furniture for a publicity stunt. He’s been rocking it since his college days, an ode to the years of dedication required to maintain a cookie duster of that quality. With Brandon Jennings (thumb) out again, Dinwiddie will see some minutes off the bench as Augustin’s backup.