The Detroit Pistons are the epitome of the term “crawling into the playoffs.” It took them all the way until the final game of the season to punch their ticket and they almost lost to the non-playoff Memphis Grizzlies team as they were being blown out at halftime.
Nevertheless, Dwane Casey has led this team into the postseason for the first time since the 2015-16 season. The team will continue to look to Blake Griffin as the undeniable leader and hope for a first-round upset.
The Milwaukee Bucks, owner of the best record in the NBA, are on the docket for the Pistons’ first-round series. During the regular season, Milwaukee took all four wins when the two teams faced each other. On average, the Pistons were outscored by a tune of 114 to 99.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, one of the most dominant players in the league, with Mike Budenholzer, one of the best coaches in the league, has become a big-time dynamic duo. This has been one of the best regular seasons in Milwaukee franchise history in the last couple of decades. Number one defense and number four offense in the entire league is what they boast coming into this series.
Detroit is going to have to limit Giannis’ supporting cast. Everyone knows Giannis is going to get his, but we’ve seen in games such as the one against the Philadelphia 76ers that he can score 50 points and the team still loses. Their offense thrives when Giannis is firing on all cylinders while being able to get his teammates going through drive and kicks. The Pistons are going to have to limit their three-point shooting off of the pick and roll and drive and kick.
Game 1: @ Milwaukee (Sunday, Apr. 14 – 7:00 PM EST, TNT)
Game 2: @ Milwaukee (Wednesday, Apr. 17 – 8:00 PM EST, NBATV)
Game 3: @ Detroit (Saturday, Apr. 20 – 8:00 PM EST, ESPN)
Game 4: @ Detroit (Monday, Apr. 22 – 8:00 PM EST, TNT)
Game 5: @ Milwaukee (Wednesday, Apr. 24 – If Necessary)
Game 6: @ Detroit (Friday, Apr. 26 – If Necessary)
Game 7: @ Milwaukee (Sunday, Apr. 28 – If Necessary)
How Can They Succeed?
Efficiency, defensive rebounding, and defending the paint. Yes, those are three big categories that separate a lot of good teams from bad teams. Detroit is a borderline good and bad team. They have good moments, but there are plenty of bad ones too.
Across the league, they are ranked 23rd in three-point percentage, 27th in two-point percentage, 29th in overall field goal percentage, 24th in defensive rebounding, and 22nd in opponent two-point percentage.
Essentially, their offense lives and dies by Blake Griffin and sometimes Andre Drummond. It’s surprising that the same team who is one of the best in the league at offensive rebounding is one of the worst on the defensive side of the glass until you realize that their opponents shoot 47% from the floor on average. Milwaukee, on the other hand, is number one in the league for two-point field goal percentage, which means they’re going to have a field day if Andre Drummond and company can’t lock down the paint.
Who is their X-Factor?
Reggie Jackson. Once the third fiddle in Oklahoma City, now the third fiddle in Detroit. He has to consistently deliver the kind of stat line that they were expecting when they first brought him to town. He’s capable of a 20, six, and five kind of game, but it doesn’t come around all that often.
Throughout the season, Blake Griffin has averaged more assists per game than Jackson. If you expect to win in today’s NBA, that can’t be the case unless Griffin is averaging ten and Jackson have nine. With a team who is 26th in the league in assists, the culture will have to change starting with the point guard. So if there will be anyone to make a difference, it’s going to have to be Jackson.
One positive stat in their favor
Offensive rebounding has been this team’s bread and butter ever since Andre Drummond joined the squad. they are fifth in the league with 11.4 offensive rebounds per game and fourth in offensive rebound percentage. Drummond is a beast on the offensive glass alone gathering just over five per game. Add in Blake Griffin and Zaza Pachulia’s rebounding, and you have the shot at a lot of second-chance points since the team’s field goal percentages are not on the high side.