Detroit Pistons: Offense sputters in a tough loss to Bucks

Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks drives around Reggie Jackson #1 of the Detroit Pistons during the first half at Little Caesars Arena on November 3, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks drives around Reggie Jackson #1 of the Detroit Pistons during the first half at Little Caesars Arena on November 3, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Pistons had one of their worst games of the year, yet had the game tied in the final minute. However, turnovers doomed Detroit in a close loss.

With a big divisional game on Wednesday night, the Detroit Pistons played their worst games in two weeks. Bad shot selection, sloppy turnovers, and inconsistent defense were the biggest downfalls against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Yet, with less than a minute to go, it was a tied game until Eric Bledsoe sealed the deal. We know the Pistons fight under Stan Van Gundy and are never out of a game. But it was not enough to defeat the Bucks on the road. Let’s break it down.

1. Biggest takeaway: Terrible point guard play

The Milwaukee Bucks build their team around length and athleticism to form a formidable defense. While the Bucks have struggled on defense to start the year (20th in defensive rating after tonight), they were playing lockdown defense on the point guards. Reggie Jackson and Ish Smith were contained all night and could not get in the paint. Jackson/Smith combined for 4-18 shooting and only 8 assists Wednesday night.

The biggest concern from this game was the lack of penetration from Jackson. Eric Bledsoe and Malcolm Brogdon were funneling the point guards into the paint, where the length of the Bucks took over. It was surprising to see how much the Bucks also trapped in this game, causing sloppy play and killing the ball movement on offense. The Pistons were trying to free up the guards with their horns set, but the Bucks were in the jerseys of the Pistons all night. This led to a lack of openings for the point guards to drive.

Reggie Jackson has been okay to start the season, but his lack of aggression tonight is worrisome. You could tell Jackson lost his confidence and didn’t play in the fourth quarter. The question will be is how this affects him going forward. Ish Smith did not fare much better but was still aggressive. Hopefully, Jackson can regroup in time for Friday night’s game.

2. Player of the game: Avery Bradley

Avery Bradley continues to light it up from deep, going 6-10 from the long line. He also was spreading the ball around a little bit more, with five assists last night. Defensively, he played hard but it was a bad matchup. Khris Middleton was able to shoot over him with a five-inch height advantage, but we know Bradley will be stellar on the defensive end.

Offensively, five turnovers are way too much and he bungled the biggest possession of the game. Yet, without the hot shooting from Bradley, this game would have been over. Bradley was the only able to get open off the ball and he continues to give Detroit a true deep threat. His shooting creates so much more space for the Pistons than last year.

3. Stat of the night: 16 turnovers

Look, if you shoot 35% overall from the floor, most nights you will lose in the NBA. The saving grace for the Pistons was 15 three-pointers made and going 20-23 from the free throw line. The Milwaukee Bucks shut down the lane throughout the night, with 16 (!!!) blocks overall. It was an ugly shooting night and the Pistons were struggling to get open all night. The ball movement was lacking and their dribble handoffs were repeatedly denied.

Despite all those negatives, the Pistons had a chance at the end. But the turnovers were the deciding factor in the game. The Pistons had two in the final minute of the game, killing any chance of a comeback.

Watching the offense, the Pistons spent too much time late in the shot clock. Part of this was the Bucks preventing the dribble handoffs Detroit loves to run so much. Another part of this was the lack of pick and roll. This felt like a game to go away from the handoffs and focus more on the pick and roll. Andre Drummond must also protect the ball better. Your starting center cannot have four turnovers.

This was (to put it bluntly) a bad game by the Detroit Pistons. This was their second worst game of the year and still had a chance at the end. The bench unit came out strong in the fourth, aided by Langston Galloway, Luke Kennard, and Anthony Tolliver. The defense was okay, but too many easy buckets in the paint by the Bucks. Khris Middleton was unstoppable and Detroit could not match up well with Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s length.

Next: Lions saving big plays for big moments

The Pistons need to grab one road victory and keep pace in the East. You won’t see the point guards go 4-18 and Tobias Harris go 4-11 very often. With a more focused offense, look for Detroit to come out hot against the Pacers Friday night and go for a divisional road win.