It what might be a positive thing for Milwaukee, they will quickly get a chance to avenge their latest close loss when they meet the Central Divison rival Detroit Pistons tonight.
Last night the Bucks fell by three points at home to the Washington Wizards, in a game that they came excruciatingly close to pinching on several occasions. Sleepwalking out of the gates, the Bucks were down by 21 points before the decent mid week crowd even had time to find their seats. From that point on, the Bucks ground their way back into the game but weren’t able to get over the hump. In wasting several opportunities to take the lead, the Bucks dropped another close one, in the process dropping further back into the Eastern Conference playoff pack.
The Bucks now sit only 1.5 games out of the eighth seed and face a confrontation with a Detroit team that is in the midst of their own capitulation. Losers in six of their last seven games. Detroit are beginning to lose touch with the Miami Heat in the eighth seed and all the early good vibes after the Blake Griffin trade have quickly been washed away. In eleven games for the Pistons, Griffin is averaging 19.3 points per game, down from 22.6 in LA. Even more concerning is his shooting percentages where he is languishing at 40 percent from the field and 27 percent from beyond the arc. After winning four straight post trade, the wheels have fallen off.
The Bucks are far from in danger of missing the playoffs, but their aim of gaining home court advantage has taken a major blow over the last two games. In losing two games at home by a combined 5 points, the Bucks missed a golden opportunity to climb within a game of the third seed Cleveland Cavaliers. Giannis Anteokounmpo had a season high 6 blocks in the loss, doing his absolute utmost as always to wrestle the Bucks back into the game. Unfortunately, a fading jumper in the paint to tie the game in the dying seconds was long, and Milwaukee fell short.
The season series has stayed with home court so far, as the Bucks lead 2-1 after sweeping the two game Milwaukee leg against Detroit. All three games have been decided by single digits and the final scores have ranged between 95-105 for both sides, indicating the sides match up relatively closely. No new injuries have surfaced on the either teams report, as Matthew Dellavedova is still just short of a return from his ankle injury, while Reggie Jackson will miss for Detroit.
Just like last night, the Bucks have a chance to clinch a season series against an Eastern Conference rival. At this time of year, with the playoff race as tight as it is, three game losing streaks simply won’t cut it. Time will tell in the Bucks can right the ship.
Kane’s Keys To Victory:
- Arrive Ready: You would hope this is a given for a professional sports team but time and time again we see the Bucks start the game off slow before working their way back into the contest. Last night was the absolute low point for Milwaukee as they found themselves getting booed by the Bradley Center crowd in the first quarter. The effort was low, defense non existent and the execution embarrassingly sloppy. They promptly found themselves down 21 points and had the job ahead of them. On the road, against a desperate Detroit side, that type of start will not be recoverable. Milwaukee MUST start well and set themselves up for a positive performance.
- Nullify Griffin/Drummond: The second the Pistons traded for Blake Griffin, they instantly held one of the NBA’s most fearsome big man duos. Averaging 34.4 points and 22.4 rebounds between them, they pose an almighty headache for the Bucks league worst rebounding. John Henson has not quite come back in the same form that he had pre hamstring injury, but he will need to turnaround his output quickly. The three pronged Milwaukee center rotation will join forces with Giannis, in an attempt to quell this dominant Pistons pair. It has the makings of a long night if they are unable to do so.
- Clean Things Up: Time after time the Bucks would press the Wizards last night, and sure enough they would take a poor shot or give the ball away softly. Make no mistake, the Bucks gave last nights game away and their 17 turnovers was far too many in a tight contest. In order to get back on track, they need to make a concerted effort to take care of the ball and not give the Pistons easy points off turnovers. It’s coming down to the business end of the season and it is not the time of year to get sloppy with our execution.
Follow Kane Pitman on twitter: @mkebucksaus