The Milwaukee Bucks have lost three of their last five games, coinciding with the injury absence of franchise player Giannis Antetokounmpo.
It’s questionable whether he’ll play Monday night in Detroit, but the Bucks might not need him against a rebuilding Pistons team they have dominated in recent seasons.
Milwaukee has won 15 of the last 16 meetings, dating to the 2018-19 season. The Bucks already have swept the first two games of the four-game series this season, recording 110-108 and 116-91 home victories in a span of three nights during a season-opening nine-game winning streak.
Antetokounmpo averaged 31.5 points in those two early season contests. He’s been sidelined recently due to left-knee soreness.
“There’s still just things he’s working on, I think body-wise, to get to that point where there’s a big difference between practicing and playing a game,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “And I know I’ve said it pretty much every day — we continue to be confident and feel like this is kind of the things we’ve managed and dealt with for most of his career. So we’ll just continue to take it day-by-day. He’s getting good work in, good lifts.”
Getting him back in the lineup certainly would be a lift. Jrue Holiday has shouldered a heavy load, leading the team in scoring in five of the last six games. He’s averaging 27.2 points and 9.0 assists during that stretch.
Holiday had 28 points and 10 assists against Cleveland on Saturday night, but the Bucks lost 114-102. Milwaukee was unable to slow Cavs second-year forward Evan Mobley, who scored a career-best 38 points.
Milwaukee also committed 16 turnovers, leading to 21 Cleveland points.
“Jrue’s just got the ball in his hands a ton,” Budenholzer said. “We’re asking a lot of him, putting him in a lot of stuff, but I think he can be better. And some of the other ones, I think we can clean up. The guys are trying and we have our stretches, we have our moments where it really hurts us, but it’s just an area where we can improve.”
The Pistons will play their first game since a trip to Paris, where they lost 126-108 to Chicago on Thursday. Detroit never led and trailed by as many as 22 points.
“There’s been a lot of growth with a lot of our players,” coach Dwane Casey said. “Now we’ve just got to understand when we face adversity how to kick the door down and not lose our edge, lose our confidence.”
The Pistons have lost three straight and six of their last seven games. They have the worst record in the Eastern Conference.
The game in Paris was technically a Pistons home game, and they’re in a stretch where they play 11 of 14 games as the hosts.
While franchise player Cade Cunningham is out for the season after undergoing shin surgery, the Pistons have gotten healthier over the past week. Jalen Duren, Isaiah Stewart, Isaiah Livers and Bojan Bogdanovic all played in France after missing one or more games due to injuries.
Bogdanovic has reached the 20-point mark in his last nine outings, including a team-high 25 against Chicago.
–Field Level Media