Giannis Antetokounmpo again hopes to find the Detroit Pistons’ porous defense to his liking.
The Milwaukee Bucks star feasted in the first of back-to-back games between the teams on Monday, recording 43 points — plus nine rebounds and four assists — in Milwaukee’s 125-115 win.
How well the Pistons can adjust will likely determine if they can make Wednesday night’s rematch at Milwaukee any closer.
Milwaukee enters with a 4-3 record, while Detroit is 1-6.
“When there’s no crowd, it’s just one-on-one and I can get to the dotted area, I feel comfortable enough to raise up and go to my right hook,” Antetokounmpo said. “I work on it, but usually it’s not that open. In the next game, it’s not going to be that open. I think the middle is going to be more crowded.”
The Pistons have surrendered an average of 117.6 points a game this season. And that’s not a good recipe for success against an offensive juggernaut such as the Bucks, who are first in the league in scoring at 124.6 points per game.
“It’s a team sport, and it’s kind of hard to guard one-on-one like that in this league, no matter who you defend, especially someone like him,” Pistons guard Derrick Rose said. “The next game, we just have to make it harder for him. We didn’t take any charges (Monday) against him. We didn’t make him think. He was clearly going at one speed.”
After an inconsistent start to the season that saw them alternate losses and wins, the Bucks have put together their first winning streak of the season, although it’s only at two games after triumphs over Chicago and Detroit.
Milwaukee’s high-octane offense doesn’t just rely on Antetokounmpo.
Khris Middleton is off to a great start, averaging just under 21 points a game this year, while offseason acquisition Jrue Holiday is averaging 15.4 points.
“Philosophically, we are always in attack mode and hopefully with great spacing,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “We attack and try and get into the paint and try to finish there. Have shooting and spacing around it.”
Detroit needed an off-day Tuesday to not only go back to the drawing board on how to defend the Bucks, but also to rest.
The Pistons played two emotional games over the weekend against Boston, including a 122-120 loss Sunday before flying to Milwaukee afterward for the game against the Bucks just one day later.
“A lot of good things, but there were too many negatives to beat a team like this,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “Our margin for error to play a team like this is very, very small.”
The Pistons will have a key piece back in the lineup in Blake Griffin, who was given a rest day on Monday.
Detroit might have to play without first-round draft pick Killian Hayes, who left Monday’s game with a hip injury. He was slated to get an MRI on Tuesday, according to Casey.
–Field Level Media