NBA-best Bucks get their work done early to put Pistons in deep hole in loss coming out of break
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Three quick observations from Thursday night’s 126-106 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks at Little Caesars Arena
TURNOVER TROUBLE – The Pistons are going to struggle to get wins against arguably the NBA’s toughest closing schedule, but they’re going to be flailing in quicksand if they lose the turnover battle as decisively as they lost it to the Milwaukee Bucks. The Pistons found themselves trailing by 29 points at halftime for a variety of reasons – the fact Milwaukee All-Stars Giannis Antetokoumnpo (who finished with 33) and Khris Middleton (28) combined for nearly as many points in the half (37) as the Pistons totaled (41) among them – but the glaring stat was turnovers. The Pistons committed 11 before the Bucks registered their first when less than two minutes remaining in the half. The final tally: 22-8. Points off of turnovers told a dark story: 25-6, advantage Bucks. The Pistons spent only the final minute of the first half in the bonus and the last few minutes of the fourth quarter with the benches cleared. Six Pistons scored in double figures with Christian Wood finishing with 18 points and 11 rebounds and Bruce Brown 16 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, both off of the bench.
ROUGH RIDE – Thursday’s game against the team with the NBA’s best record – at 47-8, the Bucks have a shot at 70 wins – ought to get the Pistons prepared for an extraordinarily rugged finish. Of their 25 games coming out of the All-Star break, 14 come against teams with .500 or better records. But even that shortchanges the degree of difficulty inherent in the remaining schedule. The Pistons will play all four teams that came out of the All-Star break holding home-court advantage in each conference, including two games apiece against Milwaukee and Miami in the East, for a total of 10 of their remaining 25 games – or 40 percent – against opponents currently in line to open the playoffs at home. In addition to playing so many teams with overwhelmingly winning records, the Pistons also play 14 of their final 24 games on the road.
15TH ROSTER SPOT – Amid reports that the Pistons have agreed to a 10-day contract with former University of Michigan point guard – and Detroit native – Derrick Walton, Dwane Casey couldn’t comment before Thursday’s game with nothing officially announced. But point guard is the priority for the 15th roster spot created by Tuesday’s buyout of Reggie Jackson’s contract, Casey admitted. That makes sense on multiple fronts, starting with the fact that Jackson’s departure leaves the depth chart one shy at that position. Also, Casey wants Bruce Brown to spend more time playing off of the ball for the season’s home stretch to solidify his standing as a part of next season’s wing cohort. Brown, Casey said, will continue to defend many point guards but he thinks Brown’s development will benefit from shedding the onus of being the primary ballhandler. Adding a point guard also cuts down on overdependency on Derrick Rose, especially with Jordan Bone’s time limited by his status as a two-way player. Brown did log some minutes at point guard in each half when Rose went to the bench in the first and third quarters before Casey brought Knight off the bench. Bone played the final five minutes and finished with six points, hitting both of his 3-point shots, plus three rebounds.