The road trip continues! Tonight, the Milwaukee Bucks hop across Lake Michigan to take on the Detroit Pistons, in the fourth and final matchup of these Central Division foes. Milwaukee has yet to lose two games in a row, and will seek to keep that factoid accurate by the end of the night.
Milwaukee was soundly defeated by the Oklahoma City Thunder in a game where Paul George cemented himself as a legitimate MVP candidate (even over triple-double-averaging teammate Russell Westbrook). The Bucks were simply unable to threaten OKC’s stout defense, and even though Giannis Antetokounmpo overcame a dreadful first half to end up with a respectable stat line, the team overall didn’t have enough and the winning streak was snapped. Tonight, the Bucks will seek to start a new winning streak, which will be helpful since the next three games after this are also on the road.
Player to Watch: Eric Bledsoe
Bledsoe has been mired in a high-volume three-point shooting slump lately (16/77 from deep in his last 15 games, just a shade above averaging 1/5 per game), but it hasn’t stopped him from having a positive impact on the team (cumulative plus-minus of +94 during the Bucks’ 6-game winning streak). Allowing Bledsoe the space to take a long range shot seems to be a trend that opposing defenses are happy to permit, and while sometimes the best solution is to shoot your way out of a slump, Bledsoe’s inaccuracy from behind the arc is quickly becoming a Thing; he’s now shooting 29.7% on the year, which is his lowest mark since 2012.
Detroit is a team still struggling to find its niche in the league. Fortunately, their star player knows that they need to buckle down and focus to ensure that they execute down the stretch. The jury is still out on whether or not his teammates are on the same page…
Detroit fans are less than optimistic about how their team matches up against Milwaukee. To make matters worse, the Pistons will be missing Reggie Bullock (ankle) and Ish Smith (abductor) this evening. From Detroit Bad Boys,
If Detroit is going to find a way to win, they’ll need to lean on Blake Griffin once again and hope that he’s able to produce like he has this entire month. Griffin is averaging a backbreaking 31 points and 5.5 assists, while shooting 52 percent from the floor and 37 percent from 3 for the month of January. But needing Griffin to play well is a given at this point.
Player to Watch: Reggie Jackson
Jackson has a reputation as a player teammates don’t enjoy sharing the court with, and he has more and more demonstrated how he is not the answer at point guard for this Detroit team. He is shooting a Brandon Jennings-esque 39.5% from the field (on 12.2 shots per game, third-most on the team), and all of his per-game and per-36 minutes stats are on the decline, except for his turnovers (which are down) and his fouls (which are up). Jackson should be the type of average lead guard that the Bucks defense goads into taking poor-value jump shots, enabling Milwaukee to use their improved rebounding to spark transition possessions.
Game 49: Against the Pistons, the Bucks will…
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)
165 votes total