Pistons Lead

First Round Preview: Pistons Battle Bucks

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The Pistons will be entering the postseason for just the second time in the last ten years.  This year will also feature the first playoff games at Little Caesar’s Arena.  Unfortunately, that may be where the good news stops, at least in terms of their immediate future.  Of all teams others would be looking to avoid, the Bucks rank below possibly only the Warriors. They have been the best team in the league this year from start to finish.  They boast the likely MVP and Coach of the Year along with one of the deepest benches in the league.  Blake Griffin’s health, the final factor, is unknown and will be essential if the Pistons will pose any challenge to Milwaukee.

Looking Back

Looking back at the four times the teams played this season, the Bucks have all the advantages.  The regular season record may be an example of events to come: Milwaukee won all four.  Both rosters have changed drastically since then.  Detroit has added Wayne Ellington and Thon Maker and said goodbye to Stanley Johnson and Reggie Bullock.  The Bucks lost Maker but have brought in Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic.  They may have the deepest roster in the entire league, which has only increased with these moves.

Detroit is hoping Griffin can give it a go to try to make the series competitive.  With the season he has had, Griffin deserves a chance to showcase himself.  The Pistons will need him, and Griffin has been tremendous against Milwaukee this year.  He has averaged 24.25 ppg, 8.25 rpg and 7 apg against Milwaukee this year and Detroit will need that and more.

Staying Positive

Another bright sign for the Pistons is all these games came before Andre Drummond and Jackson improved in the second half of the season.  Drummond should be able to take advantage of Brook Lopez on the defensive end, though he will be challenged to return the favor on the other end.  Reggie Jackson may be in for a different set of issues as Eric Bledsoe is well equipped to make life very difficult for the Pistons guard.

The Truth

The elephant in the room for Detroit is the MVP-favorite.  Giannis Antetokounmpo has posted averages against the Pistons of 20.75 ppg and 8.75 rpg, both below his season marks.   Unfortunately for the Pistons that was an area Johnson greatly helped in.  Following the mid-season move, Detroit does not have any stellar perimeter defenders.  Bruce Brown has proven capable in his rookie season:

…but entrusting him with Antetokounmpo is another task entirely.  It may be a better plan to try to slow down Middleton and Bledsoe and let Giannis get his.

Ultimately for Detroit, it is fantastic to get back to the postseason for just the second time since the end of the Goin’ to Work era.  While many fans have asked for the team to tank, Tom Gores was adamant that building for the future and making the playoffs while Griffin and Drummond are in the prime is the only goal.  Dwane Casey’s first year in town has brought the city to the dance.  While it will likely end in a series sweep to the Eastern Conference favorites, the front office has made it clear that this is a process they know will take many steps.  Step one, success.

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