Detroit Pistons Learn the Hard Way In Loss to Milwaukee Bucks
Who are the 2022-24 Detroit Pistons? Are they who we saw lose to the Milwaukee Bucks 110-108 a few nights ago, or the team that lost 116-91 to them Wednesday night?
As a team whose goal this year was learning to compete, the Bucks presented a master class. Their physical style of play left the Pistons in foul trouble, mistake prone and outmatched for the majority of the contest.
“They have size, they have shooting, they have veteran leadership, they have veteran playmakers and probably the best player in the NBA right now,” Pistons head coach Dwane Casey remarked.
That “best player”, Giannis Antetokounmpo, wreaked havoc on the Pistons all night. He finished with 32 points (11-24 field goals), 12 rebounds, four assists, five steals and two blocks. Isaiah Stewart spoke to the difficulties of defending the all-world talent “We got to be down and ready every play. When he (Giannis) starts to see a few baskets go in, he gets hot. Defensively we have to do a better job.”
He wasn’t alone as Jrue Holiday picked up where he left off in the previous game against the Pistons: COOKING! Holiday efficiently ran the team with 26 points (11-16 FG), with seven boards to go with three dimes, and was a game high +26!
But the true story of the game showed up in stats usually associated with hustle and effort.
“We allowed them to continue to get transition points, second chance points and not boarding hurt us tonight. It hurts a lot. Really you cant afford to turn the ball over that much verse a championship team.” – Isaiah Stewart
Casey stated the plan coming into the game was to prioritize boxing out, so it was sorely disappointing to see the Pistons lose that battle 52-35. Casey said “We didn’t do a good job. It’s something we went in and game planned for… it’s got to be a physical box out and we didn’t do a good job.”
They held the Bucks to 26% from three, but gave up 16 offensive rebounds and 56 points in the paint.
This was a night Marvin Bagley and Jalen Duren would’ve helped immensely.
Stewart alluded to the team being outmatched as they lack the size to compete with the Bucks right now. “It was definitely a difference. Against a team like this all five have to rebound. They have three big guys crashing at all times. On some of the shots we could’ve been up more. A little miscommunication on defense.”
That miscommunication on defense led to 22 fouls while “careless offense”, as Casey calls it, gave up 17 steals and 21 total turnovers to the bucks.
Bucks Key in on Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey
It was clear the Bucks made a concerted effort to use their length more tonight, than in the previous game against the Pistons. There were several tweaks made to slow down the Pistons offensive attack that included better utilizing the bigs, to produce better results.
Cade Cunningham shot 5-13 scoring only 10 points, while grabbing six rebound and tallying four assists.
“They brought the bigs up just a little bit higher. To box him in, and semi blitz the pick and rolls,” Casey said. “The same shots he (Cade) had the other night, they were really doing a good job of coming from behind and challenging.”
This boxing in or pinching is something I’ve spoken about since preseason. Opponents have been sending extra help defenders to show at the elbows to make the mid range looks, more difficult. This is something that he’s going to have to get used to as more and more teams will look to slow the Pistons second year star.
“When Cade doesn’t have it going, we got to have somebody else step up. Saddiq Did. Bogey (Bojan Bogdanovic) did in the first half,” coach Casey said. Bogdanovic finished with 14 points, while Saddiq Bey led the team with 22 on only 12 shot attempts.
Despite the praise for Bogdanovic and Saddiq Bey, Casey didn’t let the bench off the hook.
“We got to have somebody, whoever it is coming off the bench to really step up. We did not do that.”
Killian Hayes has been abysmal to start the year so far averaging 2.5 ppg, 2.5 rpg and 3.5 apg. That is good for .20 PER which wont be helped by his 5 point, 1 assist performance tonight.
Isaiah Stewart had 16 points and 10 rebounds finishing with his 4th double double of the season. He was one of the lone bright spots on both ends of the court tonight shooting an efficient 6-9 from the field with 2 threes.
He played tough all night battling, but ultimately he alone was no match for the size of the Bucks.
The Detroit Pistons look to bounce back against Donovan Mitchell and the Cleveland Caveliers on Friday night.
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