The Cade Cunningham-led Detroit Pistons take on the Milwaukee Bucks tonight at 8:00pm EST/5:00pm PST in Milwaukee. The young, upstart Pistons are looking to improve on a tough 2-6 start that includes a current 5 game losing streak.
Attack the struggling defense
The Pistons have started the season with a mixed bag on offense, with top-5 assist numbers and a decisive drive, cut and kick system, but a near league-low 2p%. The lack of Bojan Bogdanovic on the wing has been felt less than expected, as the Pistons rock a .391 3p%, and that number will need to continue against a Bucks team currently floundering at closing out shooters (among pretty much everything else on the defensive side of the ball).
We’re likely going to see a lot of Cunningham tonight, who’s size and skill will certainly test a Milwaukee starting lineup devoid of viable perimeter defenders. Don’t be surprised to see Damian Lillard parked on Killian Hayes whenever possible, as the Bucks are sure to try and avoid the size mismatch that Cade provides.
Unfortunately, even though Milwaukee’s star-studded lineup has struggled to find any consistency on defense, it’ll be a hard grind for Detroit to outpoint Giannis Antetokounmpo, Lillard & Co. The Bucks are easily one of the strongest offensive teams in the league right now. Factor in a short bench and an early season trend of too many bad fouls for Detroit, and the Pistons may find that exploiting this swiss cheese defense won’t be enough.
Cade Cunningham is the obvious player spotlight in every Pistons game from now until time untold, so instead of staking my money on the obvious, I thought we’d look at a less talked about fan favorite: Isaiah Stewart.
Isaiah Stewart (Beef Stew to us true believers) is looking at a potentially massive game in what has quickly become an inspiring season from the fourth year PF/C. Currently repping game averages of 13.4/8.3/1.7, along with an absurd .464% from 3, Stewart will present problems for Milwaukee as they try to find ways to stop Cunningham.
While the natural expectation will be for Antetokounmpo to clamp up Stewart as much as possible, there’s a real possibility that Giannis will be fighting to provide help defense for Cunningham pick and rolls. These crashes to help could leave Stewart to feast from three on kick outs from the lane. So be ready, because Beef Stew is ready to eat.
The Injuries Continue
While the Pistons are the younger team, they’ll need to prepare for another gassing contest, as they’ll be without Jaden Ivey, Alec Burks, and Joe Harris, who are all recovering from short term injuries/illnesses. Bojan Bogdanovic, Monte Morris, and Isaiah Livers all still remain out as they wait to hit the court for the first time.
On top of that, Jalen Duren approaches tonight officially questionable. Should he prove to be unable to go, expect to see Marvin Bagley III start at the 5, with James Wiseman providing big man minutes off the bench (same as in Sunday’s game against the Phoenix Suns).