Pistons host Bucks in battle of teams that just beat the Miami Heat

Essentials

  • Teams: Milwaukee Bucks (16-10) at Detroit Pistons (10-22)
  • Date: December 30, 2012
  • Time: 7:30 p.m.
  • Television: FSD

What to look for

The Pistons enter this game with momentum after upsetting the defending champion Miami Heat on Friday. Unfortunately, so do the Bucks, who beat the Heat with its full array of players (Dwyane Wade didn’t play against the Pistons because of a suspension) on Saturday.

Many predicted that the Bucks would sneak into the playoffs this season and so far, with the team at 16-10 and tied for first place in the Central Division, that looks like a good bet. The Bucks are led by two dynamic, undersized guards who like to shoot — Monta Ellis averages 19 points and nearly six assists per game and Brandon Jennings averages 17 points and nearly six assists per game. The key to stopping these two players who love to shoot might be … well … letting them shoot. Neither shoots a particularly good percentage from the field. Ellis is attempting three 3-pointers per game and making just 25 percent of them. Ersan Ilyasova, who had a great season last season, has fallen off dramatically and is shooting just 39 percent. Oh, and only semi-related to tonight’s game but still hilarious, check out Ellis’ lofty opinion of himself:

To be honest, I would put myself in the same category as D-Wade. I mean, at the end of the day, the only thing that he has that I don’t have is more wins and two championships. That’s it. As far as playing at the same level? Competing every night? Both ends? Shooting inside and outside? Fast break? Transition? Monta Ellis have it all.”

That’s why I love this league so much. A guy who has really only been barely better than like Lou Williams this year can compare himself favorably to Dwyane Wade. That’s beautiful work, Monta.

So how is one of the worst shooting teams in the league, which seems to have a few ill-fitting parts, staying competitive? The answer is pretty simple — defense. The Bucks allow opponents to shoot just 43 percent (top 10 in the league) and, led by Larry Sanders and his three blocks per game in just 25 minutes per game, the Bucks are the second best shot-blocking team in the league. That could be a bad mix for the Pistons, who have several players who get their shots blocked fairly frequently.

The biggest question for the Pistons will be whether the surprisingly (perhaps I should say SURPRISINGLY!) good bench unit can continue it’s amazing production from the last two games. Andre Drummond has been a reliable contributor off the bench all season, but Will Bynum, Austin Daye and Charlie Villanueva have all become productive players of late, surprising considering the fact that all three have spent time out of the rotation at different points this season and all three are coming off of what can be generously described as awful seasons.

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