Numbers preview: Milwaukee Bucks (1) vs. Detroit Pistons (8)

John Schuhmann

John Schuhmann NBA.com

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Apr 13, 2019 12:31 AM ET

Giannis Antetokounmpo led the league with 17.5 points in the paint per game.

The Milwaukee Bucks were the best team in the NBA in the regular season. They had the league's best record and its best point differential by a wide margin. They ranked in the top four on both ends of the floor, the first Eastern Conference team to hold that distinction in the last nine years.

Given how dominant the Bucks were over the last six months (and the fact that they have the East's best player), the Bucks should be the clear favorite to reach The Finals out of the East. But this is a core group that has yet to win a playoff series. Giannis Antetokounmpo has been to the postseason in three of the last four years, and has been dispatched in the first round each time.

Of course, the Detroit Pistons haven't won a single playoff game in the last 10 years. And while the Bucks will begin the postseason without starting guard Malcolm Brogdon, the Pistons could be in even worse shape, with All-Star Blake Griffin dealing with a knee injury that kept him out of the last game and a half of the regular season, when Detroit needed two wins to just get into the playoffs.

Here are some statistical notes to get you ready for the 1-8 series in the East, with links to let you dive in and explore more. Game 1 is Sunday at 7 p.m. ET on TNT.

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

Milwaukee Bucks (60-22)

Pace: 103.6 (5)
OffRtg: 113.5 (4)
DefRtg: 104.9 (1)
NetRtg: +8.6 (1)

Regular season: Team stats | Advanced splits | Player stats | Player shooting | Lineups
vs. Detroit: Team stats | Advanced splits | Player stats | Player shooting | Lineups

Bucks notes - General:

  1. Saw the league's second biggest increase in pace, averaging 6.5 more possessions per 48 minutes than they did last season.
  2. Outscored their opponents by a league-high 11.1 points in the paint per game. Also outscored their opponents by a league-high 2.8 points per game on free throws.
  3. Were the league's best team in both the second quarter (plus-12.0 points per 100 possessions) and the fourth quarter (plus-7.0 per 100).
  4. Had the league's best record (17-19) after trailing by double-digits.
Bucks 2018-19 shot profile
AreaFGMFGAFG%Rank%FGARank
Restricted area1,8502,79366.2%337%2
Other paint33586138.9%2212%30
Mid-range26568338.8%219%27
Corner 324263738.0%159%9
Above-break 38632,48934.7%1433%2
%FGA = Percentage of total shots

Bucks notes - Offense:

  1. Had the league's fourth most improved offense, scoring 4.7 more points per 100 possessions than they did last season.
  2. Took 41.9 percent of their shots, the league's third highest rate, from 3-point range. Led the league with 9.8 catch-and-shoot 3-pointers per game.
  3. 21.5 percent of their possessions, the league's highest rate, were in transition.

Bucks notes - Defense:

  1. Had the league's most improved defense, allowing 4.2 fewer points per 100 possessions than they did last season. The league average climbed by 1.9 points per 100 possessions and no other team saw a defensive efficiency drop bigger than 2.2 per 100.
  2. Were the league's most improved team in regard to opponent effective field goal percentage (going from 20th to first), opponent free throw rate (from 28th to first), and opponent offensive rebounding percentage (from 30th to second).
  3. They did see the biggest drop in opponent turnover percentage, from 15.9 per 100 possessions (third) last season to 12.8 per 100 (25th) this season.
  4. Became the first team in NBA history to allow 1,000 made 3-pointers, allowing a record 1,073. Three other teams joined them with more than 1,000, but the Bucks were the only playoff team that ranked in the bottom 12 in total 3-pointers allowed.
  5. Allowed a league-low 11.0 fast break points per game. Only 13.7 percent of opponent possessions were in transition. That was the league's third lowest rate and the Bucks were the only team that allowed less than a point per possession on transition possessions.
  6. Allowed just 29.6 points per game in the restricted area, fewest in the league. Only 27 percent of their opponents' shots, the league's lowest opponent rate, came in the restricted area. And their opponents shot a league-low 58.0 percent on the restricted area shots.
Bucks 2018-19 four factors
Own/Opp.eFG%RankOREB%RankTO%RankFTA RateRank
Own55.0%225.0%2613.3%70.25518
Opponents50.3%124.3%212.8%250.2211
eFG% = (FGM + (0.5 * 3PM)) / FGA
OREB% = Percentage of available offensive rebounds obtained.
TO% = Turnovers per 100 possessions.
FTA Rate = FTA/FGA

Bucks notes - Lineups:

  1. Regular starting lineup - Bledsoe, Brogdon, Middleton, Antetokounmpo and Lopez - played at a pace of 109.2 possessions per 48 minutes, second fastest among 40 lineups that played at least 200 minutes together. It also allowed opponents to attempt just 14.0 free throws per 100 shots from the field, the lowest opponent free throw rate among those same 40 lineups.
  2. That lineup scored 110.7 points per 100 possessions in its 597 minutes, but a lineup with Sterling Brown in place of Brogdon scored just 93.6 per 100, the third worst mark among 126 lineups that played at least 100 minutes together.
  3. The Bucks allowed just 100.5 points per 100 possessions and outscored their opponents by 12.8 per 100 with Antetokounmpo on the floor. Those were the third best marks for on-court DefRtg and on-court NetRtg among 230 players that average at least 20 minutes in 40 games or more

Bucks notes - Individuals:

  1. Giannis Antetokounmpo led the league with 17.5 points in the paint per game, the most for any player since Shaquille O'Neal averaged 19.6 in 2002-03. In the 23 seasons for which we have shot location data, Antetokounmpo and O'Neal are the only players to have averaged more than 15.7 points in the paint per game.
  2. Antetokounmpo had a true shooting percentage of 64.4 percent, the best mark among 87 players with at least 750 field goal attempts.
  3. On shots from outside the paint, Antetokounmpo had a field goal percentage of 29.0 percent and an effective field goal percentage of 37.2 percent. Those were each the worst marks among 218 players with at least 200 field goal attempts from outside the paint.
  4. Antetokounmpo grabbed 27.3 percent of available defensive rebounds while he's been on the floor, a rate which ranked sixth in the league (highest among non-centers) and is up from 21.8 percent last season.
  5. Eric Bledsoe shot 68.4 percent in the restricted area, the third best mark among guards with at least 200 restricted-area field goal attempts. He ranked fifth among guards in with 568 total points scored in the restricted area.
  6. Sterling Brown shot 29-for-57 (50.9 percent) on corner 3-pointers, the sixth best mark among 148 players who attempted at least 50.
  7. Pat Connaughton took 91 percent of his shots from the restricted area or 3-point range. That was the third highest rate among 274 players with at least 300 total field goal attempts.
  8. Connaughton grabbed 9.2 percent of available rebounds while he was on the floor, the second highest rate among players shorter than 6-7 who averaged at least 15 minutes per game.
  9. George Hill shot 31.4 percent from 3-point range, down from 41.5 percent last season. That was the fourth biggest drop among 195 players with at least 100 3-point attempts both seasons.
  10. Ersan Ilyasova drew 1.5 charges per 36 minutes, most among players who played a total of 1,000 minutes, with no other player drawing more than 0.5 per 36.
  11. Brook Lopez took 65.1 percent of his shots from 3-point range. That was the seventh highest rate among 178 players with at least 500 total field goal attempts and up from 41.0 percent last season. That was the biggest jump among the 126 players with at least 500 field goal attempts both years.
  12. Lopez grabbed just 7.9 percent of available rebounds while he was on the floor, the lowest rate among players 6-10 or taller who averaged at least 15 minutes per game.
  13. Khris Middleton scored 1.09 points per possession on isolations, the second best mark among 51 players with at least 100 isolation possessions, according to Synergy play-type tracking.
  14. Middleton (39.0 percent) and Bledsoe (38.4 percent) ranked fourth and sixth, respectively, in pull-up 3-point percentage among 69 players who attempted at least 200 pull-up threes.

Detroit Pistons (41-41)

Pace: 97.9 (28)
OffRtg: 108.3 (21)
DefRtg: 108.6 (12)
NetRtg: -0.4 (17)

Regular season: Team stats | Advanced splits | Player stats | Player shooting | Lineups
vs. Milwaukee: Team stats | Advanced splits | Player stats | Player shooting | Lineups

Pistons notes - General:

  1. Only Eastern Conference team that hasn't won a playoff game in the last 10 years. Were swept in their only two playoff appearances since reaching the conference finals in 2008.
  2. Outscored their opponents by 7.6 points per game from 3-point range. Only Houston (+18.0) had a bigger differential.
  3. Were outscored by 5.0 points in the paint per game. That was the league's fourth biggest discrepancy.
  4. Were outscored in every quarter but the fourth. Had a league-high 12 wins after trailing at the end of the third quarter.
Pistons 2018-19 shot profile
AreaFGMFGAFG%Rank%FGARank
Restricted area1,3872,28460.7%2432%22
Other paint4511,21937.0%2817%12
Mid-range35488140.2%1312%25
Corner 329076138.1%1411%5
Above-break 37032,06434.1%2229%9
%FGA = Percentage of total shots

Pistons notes - Offense:

  1. Scored 5.9 more points per 100 possessions after the All-Star break (112.4, seventh in the league) than they did before the break (106.5, 23rd). That was the league's second biggest post-break, OffRtg improvement.
  2. Ranked 23rd in overall 3-point percentage (34.8 percent), but third in clutch 3-point percentage (40.0 percent).
  3. Ranked 29th with just 10.0 fast break points per game.

Pistons notes - Defense:

  1. Allowed a league-low 9.6 3-pointers per game. Saw the league's biggest drop in the percentage of opponent shots that came from 3-point range, from 36.2 percent (fourth highest) last season to 32.7 percent (second lowest) this season.
  2. Only 5.3 percent of opponent possessions, the league's third lowest rate, were isolations.
  3. Ranked 28th in clutch defense, allowing 113.8 points per 100 possessions with the score within five points in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime.
Pistons 2018-19 four factors
Own/Opp.eFG%RankOREB%RankTO%RankFTA RateRank
Own50.9%2629.1%514.0%180.26212
Opponents52.6%1925.5%414.2%130.27926
eFG% = (FGM + (0.5 * 3PM)) / FGA
OREB% = Percentage of available offensive rebounds obtained.
TO% = Turnovers per 100 possessions.
FTA Rate = FTA/FGA

Pistons notes - Lineups:

  1. Had the two lineups - Jackson, Brown, Griffin and Drummond, with either Bullock or Ellington - that played at the slowest pace among the 40 league-wide lineups that played at least 200 minutes together.
  2. Lineup of Jackson, Brown, Ellington, Griffin and Drummond took 44.4 percent of its shots from 3-point range, the second highest rate among 51 lineups that averaged at least 10 minutes in 10 games or more.
  3. Scored 12.6 more points per 100 possessions with Andre Drummond on the floor (111.4) than they did with him off the floor (98.8). That was the seventh biggest on-off OffRtg differential among 256 players who played at least 1,000 minutes for a single team.

Pistons notes - Individuals:

  1. Andre Drummond led the league with 15.5 rebounds per game and 68 double-doubles. He ranked first in offensive rebounding percentage, second in defensive rebounding percentage, and first in total rebounding percentage, grabbing 22.8 percent of available rebounds while he was on the floor.
  2. Drummond shot 59 percent from the free throw line overall, but was 24-for-28 (86 percent) on clutch free throws, the ninth best mark among 40 players who attempted at least 25. Reggie Jackson (29-for-32) had the fifth best mark among that group.
  3. Drummond passed 14 percent of the time out of post-ups, the lowest rate among 81 players with at least 100 total post-ups.
  4. Wayne Ellington took 81 percent of his shots from 3-point range. That was the highest rate among 274 players with at least 300 total field goal attempts. He was one of five players who played at least 1,000 minutes and averaged 10 or more 3-point attempts per 36.
  5. Langston Galloway and Luke Kennard combined for an effective field goal percentage of 56.7 percent after the All-Star break, up from a combined 49.1 percent before the break. Individually, they saw the league's 13th and 17th biggest increases among 202 players with at least 250 field goal attempts before the break and 100 after it.
  6. Blake Griffin's usage rate of 29.3 percent ranked 13th in the league and was a career high. Griffin ranked third with 88.5 touches per game.
  7. Griffin shot 12-for-29 (41 percent) from 3-point range with the score within five points in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime. Only Stephen Curry shot better on at least 25 clutch 3-point attempts.
  8. Griffin drew 7.7 fouls per game, third most in the league. He ranked second with 0.41 drawn charges per game.
  9. Jackson was assisted on 42.6 percent of his field goals, up from 19.1 percent last season. That was the biggest increase among 236 players with at least 100 field goals both seasons.
  10. Thon Maker took 57.1 percent of his shots from 3-point range, up from 32.9 percent last season. That was the third biggest jump among 229 players with at least 250 field goal attempts both seasons.
  11. Zaza Pachulia averaged 13.0 box outs per 36 minutes, third most among 312 players that played at least 750 total minutes.
  12. Ish Smith committed a turnover just 3.9 percent of the time on drives, the second lowest rate among 114 players who averaged at least five drives per game.

Regular season matchup

Season series: Bucks won, 4-0
Dec. 5 @ Milwaukee - Bucks 115, Pistons 92
Dec. 17 @ Detroit - Bucks 107, Pistons 104
Jan. 1 @ Milwaukee - Bucks 121, Pistons 98
Jan. 29 @ Detroit - Bucks 115, Pistons 105

Pace: 100.0 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes
Milwaukee OffRtg: 114.8 (5th vs. Detroit)
Detroit OffRtg: 99.5 (26th vs. Milwaukee)

Individual matchups: MIL offense vs. DET defense | DET offense vs. MIL defense

Matchup notes:

  1. All four games took place before the trade deadline, when Detroit added Thon Maker (from Milwaukee) and Wayne Ellington and when Milwaukee added Nikola Mirotic. Khris Middleton missed the first meeting, while Malcolm Brogdon missed both games in Detroit.
  2. The Dec. 5 meeting was the fastest-paced game (109 possessions per team) the Pistons played all season. It was also their fourth worst offensive game (92 points on their 109 possessions) of the season.
  3. Over the four games, the Bucks outscored the Pistons 79-26 in fast break points and 232-162 in points in the paint.
  4. Blake Griffin averaged 24.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 7.0 assists over the four games. But he committed 28 turnovers, 13 more than he had against any other team this season. His plus-minus in the series (minus-43) was also his worst mark against any opponent.
  5. Reggie Jackson shot 57 percent (including 10-for-14 on non-restricted-area paint shots), his second best mark against any opponent this season.
  6. Giannis Antetokounmpo averaged just 20.8 points per game (and shot 1-for-10 from 3-point range), his third lowest average against any opponent. But the Pistons scored just 92.7 points per 100 possessions in his 119 minutes on the floor.
  7. Eric Bledsoe had 26 assists and just two turnovers over the four games.
  8. Griffin was the primary defender on Antetokounmpo, and the Bucks were more successful with that matchup on the other end of the floor, holding the Pistons to just 131 points on 134 possessions when Antetokounmpo defended Griffin.

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John Schuhmann is a senior stats analyst for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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