The Bucks face the Pistons Wednesday night for the third time already in the early NBA season. The Bucks won the first two matchups 125-115 and 130-115 in Milwaukee and swept the Pistons in their three meetings last season.
The Bucks sit a half-game behind the Celtics for the best record in the Eastern Conference, but their point differential of +11.6 ranks best in the NBA. On the other hand, the Pistons are tied for the worst record in the NBA, and they have the third-worst point differential in the league.
Expect Giannis Antetokounmpo to have another big night in a comfortable Bucks win.
Middleton from EverywhereThe Bucks started the season slowly as they lost three of their first five games, but they have found their form recently as they have won five of their last six games. A big reason why the Bucks have continued their success from last year’s dominant regular season is their league-leading effective field goal percentage.
The Bucks led the league in eFG% last year at 55.5% and have slightly increased that number to 57.9% this season. While Giannis Antetokounmpo has been stellar again despite his inefficiency from beyond the arc, Khris Middleton has raised his game. Per Cleaning The Glass, Middleton ranks in the 98th percentile among bigs with an eFG% of 64.5%. He has done this efficiently at all three levels as he ranks in the 82nd percentile in shooting accuracy at the rim, 85th percentile in shooting accuracy in the midrange, and 92nd percentile in shooting accuracy from three. Middleton’s 138.9 points per 100 shot attempts lead all forwards and is a career-high.
Detroit DownThe early season has been a struggle for the Detroit Pistons. In short, they have done a good job of limiting turnovers offensively and forcing them defensively while being between mediocre and terrible at everything else.
The Pistons signed Jerami Grant this offseason from the Nuggets as he was looking for a bigger role. Grant has raised his scoring average to a career-high 25.1 points per game. Per Cleaning The Glass, Grant has been relatively just as efficient shooting the basketball at each level of the floor as his usage rate has increased significantly, but he is taking less efficient shots this year. He is taking slightly fewer shots at the rim, more midrange jumpers, and fewer threes overall (he has taken fewer corner threes but more non-corner threes this season). Grant has a career-high 20.78 Player Efficiency Rating (PER) this season, but he needs more help from his supporting cast.
The second-best player for the Pistons (with Derrick Rose’s status up in the air), Blake Griffin, has struggled mightily this season. After recording a PER of over 18 in each of his first nine seasons, Griffin’s PER dropped below 12 for the first time last season, and it sits at 12.99 this season (despite his $36M salary this year). Per Cleaning The Glass, Griffin ranks in the ninth percentile among bigs in eFG%. Griffin is shooting slightly below average at the rim, but he is attempting his fewest shot attempts ever from within four feet of the basket. Griffin is also taking more threes than he ever has before, but he is shooting just 30% from beyond the arc, and he is attempting more than five times as many threes from above the break as he is from the corner. The Pistons will need Griffin to take smarter shots that fit his strengths if they hope to upset the Bucks.
- Pistons are 8-19 ATS in their last 27 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
- Pistons are 10-24-1 ATS in their last 35 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
- Pistons are 4-12 ATS in their last 16 home games vs. a team with a losing road record.
- Bucks are 21-8-2 ATS in the last 31 meetings with the Pistons.
- Bucks are 5-0-1 ATS in the last 6 meetings in Detroit.
- Bucks are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games playing on 1 days rest.