The Milwaukee Bucks can tie a franchise record on Wednesday if they defeat the visiting Detroit Pistons for the second time in three nights.
The Bucks are in line to match the franchise-best start of 7-0, set by the 1970-71 and 2018-19 squads, while retaining their status as the league’s only undefeated team.
Despite leading most of the way Monday, the Bucks couldn’t put away the feisty young Pistons, who were playing the end of a back-to-back. Detroit rallied from a 16-point deficit to tie the score with just under a minute remaining before Milwaukee’s Jrue Holiday knocked down a decisive 3-pointer.
Milwaukee defeated the Pistons for the 14th time in the last 15 regular-season meetings.
“I don’t think we ever doubted that we were going to lose or we were ever nervous,” Holiday said. “Just came down and let it fly.”
Earlier in the quarter, Holiday made a 3-pointer after his team had misfired 14 consecutive times from long range.
“I think in that moment it was just about taking the shot that I wanted,” said Holiday, who has hit eight 3-pointers over the last two games while scoring 59 points and dishing out 22 assists.
Milwaukee also used its size advantage to pull out the 110-108 victory. The Bucks outrebounded the Pistons 50-43.
“I think we’ve been very confident, very aggressive,” Bucks center Brook Lopez said. “We’ve used our size to our advantage, which has been great. We’ve obviously guarded well, which is something I take pride in. Our team’s definitely the best defensive team in the NBA, and that’s something we can do every night, regardless of how we’re shooting.”
Lopez, who normally does most of his offensive damage from long range, scored eight of his 10 field goals inside the arc. He finished with 24 points and nine rebounds.
With Marvin Bagley III sidelined by a knee sprain, Detroit has utilized small alignments at the forward spots. Rookie center Jalen Duren also missed Monday’s game due to an ankle sprain but might rejoin the club in Milwaukee for the rematch.
“They’re playing a lot of skill guys — they’re pretty big skill guys — but they’re kind of wings,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said of the Pistons. “(Cade) Cunningham is really impressive at 6-8 what he’s doing with the ball and handling it. (Rookie Jaden) Ivey is maybe more of a traditional point guard or backcourt guy, but with (Bojan) Bogdanovic and (Saddiq) Bey and Cunningham, they’re big wings, but there’s just one kind of big guy.
“So we tried to hopefully pound that a little bit and make an advantage for us.”
Cunningham had 27 points, seven assists and six rebounds, Bogdanovic contributed 23 points, and Ivy scored 19. Cunningham missed a triple-double by one assist in the Pistons’ 128-114 win over Golden State on Sunday.
“It’s a confidence-builder for a young group, for a kid like Ivey and we keep forgetting Cade’s in year two, for those guys to understand what it takes to beat great teams like we’ve played the last couple nights,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said.
Cunningham missed an elbow jumper and a 3-point try after Holiday’s tie-breaking basket.
“I loved the fight and the grit we showed against what I would say is the best team in the NBA right now,” Casey said.
–Field Level Media