Bucks at Pistons preview
Rookie Brandon Jennings has cooled off during the Bucks’ current slump after starting out the season lightning hot. He has failed to score 20 points in the Bucks’ last six games, averaging 14.7 per game. He averaged 25.3 per game in the Bucks first 11 games, which included a 55-point game against the Warriors. Jennings is still a huge threat offensively and is also averaging nearly six assists per game (5.8).
Center Andrew Bogut (15.9 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.8 blocks) has played in the Bucks last two games after missing six with a bone bruise on his left knee. Having Bogut back is a huge boost the Bucks’ frontline that also features Ersan Ilyasova (11.5 points, 7.4 rebounds) and Hakim Warrick (12.1 points, 5.8 rebounds).
Meanwhile, Michael Redd remains out with a sore knee. Charlie Bell (8.4 points, 2.8 assists) has started in place of the injured Redd.
Former Pistons Carlos Delfino (9.2 points, 4.1 rebounds). has started 15 games for the Bucks, but has been inconsistent at best. Luke Ridnour and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute are key players off Milwaukee’s bench.
The Bucks will be without head coach Scott Skiles, who was suspended one game by the league for his actions after being ejected from Wendesday’s loss to the Wizards.
Key matchup — Pistons Rodney Stuckey vs. Bucks Brandon Jennings: The key to beating the Bucks is slowing down Jennings, whose 21.5 points per game is easily tops on the team. Milwaukee is 5-2 when Jennings scores 24 or more and 3-6 when he fails to score 20. The Pistons will also rely on Stuckey’s offense with Richard Hamilton (ankle) and Tayshaun Prince (back) out, while Ben Gordon (ankle) and Charlie Villanueva (broken nose) are expected to play but not 100 percent. Stuckey shot just 4 for 16 in the loss at Chicago on Wednesday and will need a better shooting night to help his team beat the Bucks.
The skinny — The Pistons had an awful start to Wednesday’s loss at Chicago and as a result had to fight to get back into the game. The last thing a team that is hobbled by injuries can afford to do is dig themselves a hole early, so Friday’s start will be key for Detroit.
The Pistons also shot the ball horribly (38.5 percent) against Chicago and will have to try to shoot higher percentage shots.
It’s hard to say any regular season game is a must-win, but Friday’s game will be important for the 6-12 Pistons because they can’t afford to keep digging themselves a hole and expect to get out of it when they get healthy. It’s also a home game against a division opponent, that could be fighting for a playoff spot in the East at the end of the season.
Detroit will need to come out with the same effort it gave against Atlanta and try to dominate the boards and give itself second chance shots. Ben Wallace, Jonas Jerebko and Jason Maxiell will all play a key role in that department.