Early turnovers fuel fast Bucks start as Pistons buried under 3-point avalanche
Chris Schwegler (NBAE/Getty)
Three quick observations from Wednesday night’s 110-101 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks at Little Caesars Arena
LINEUP TWEAK – Dwane Casey said after the Pistons fell 20 points behind Utah after 10 minutes of their last game that he’d examine the starting lineup in an attempt to avoid the slow starts that have beset the Pistons. Over their four games heading into Wednesday’s loss, the Pistons had been outscored by an average of 10.5 points in first quarters. The tweak he made was bringing veteran Wayne Ellington into the lineup at shooting guard over Josh Jackson, who’d returned from a two-game injury absence to start against Utah. But the Pistons sputtered offensively again, scoring only 13 first-quarter points – their lowest-scoring quarter of the season – and shooting 20 percent with more turnovers (six) than baskets (four). They fell 23 down midway through the second quarter, pared the deficit to 11 at halftime and to eight when Ellington opened the second half with a triple. But the Bucks, who hit 19 of 43 from the 3-point arc, pushed their lead back to 14 after three quarters and kept it in double digits throughout the fourth quarter until Josh Jackson’s triple in the final seconds, a basket that meant the Pistons have still only lost one game by more than 10 points – and that to Milwaukee. Turnovers, a huge issue for the Pistons in the early going but since turned around dramatically, fueled Milwaukee’s fast start. The Pistons finished with just 15 turnovers but 10 came in the game’s first 14 minutes. The other change Casey made to his rotation was the removal of Sekou Doumbouya. Jerami Grant again led the Pistons in scoring with 22 points, scoring 20 or more points for the 10th straight game. The Pistons finish their season series with the Bucks at 0-3.
PISTONS POSTPONED – The pandemic-induced wave of NBA suspended games had yet to affect the Pistons, but shortly before tipoff of Wednesday’s game the NBA announced that Friday’s scheduled game with Washington at Little Caesars Arena would be postponed due to ongoing contact tracing within the Wizards organization that would leave them without the minimum required eight players available for the game. The Pistons are scheduled to play at Miami on both Saturday and Monday and the Heat played on Tuesday with the minimum required and are likely to be in a similar situation on Thursday if they’re able to play at Philadelphia. “You have to be prepared for it,” Dwane Casey said earlier this week. “I’m on the Competition Committee and Adam (Silver, NBA commissioner) told us this month was going to be the worst month. If we can get through January with minimum games lost as possible, the vaccine will be getting around. I know the NBA office was expecting January to be a really, really tough month and it’s turning out to be true.”
SVI FOR 3 – With the 3-point shooting the Pistons lost over the off-season, Svi Mykhailiuk was their most prolific and reliable returning shooter. But Mykhailiuk had been mired in a slump over the season’s first 10 games, going from 40.4 percent last season to 29.5 percent entering the Milwaukee game. After going 2 of 18 over the first three games, Mykhailiuk rebounded to hit 11 of 21 over the next four. But he went 5 of 21 over the three most recent games and was 1 of 8 from the arc in Sunday’s loss to Utah. Mykhailiuk came on to start Wednesday’s second quarter and helped the Pistons score 34 in the quarter after their 13-point first quarter by scoring nine points in seven minutes and making all three of his shots, two of them from the 3-point line. He finished with a season-high 18 points, hitting 6 of 9 shots and 2 of 4 from the arc. Rookie Isaiah Stewart also gave the Pistons good minutes off the bench with nine points and seven boards. Fellow rookie Saddiq Bey continued to bring scoring punch to the second unit, too, added 10 points. Bey has made multiple 3-point shots in eight of his 10 games.