By Taylor Marten
Detroit Pistons (14-9)
The Pistons had been one of the nice surprises in the NBA. With a 14-6 record last week, Detroit was second in the Eastern Conference standings (behind Boston). But three straight losses on-the-road to the Wizards, 76ers, and Spurs have dropped the Pistons to fourth in a muddled fray that they want to stay above.
If Detroit doesn’t turn things around versus Milwaukee, they play the Warriors and Celtics their next two games. While both matchups are at home, the Pistons are in serious danger of falling out of the top eight if they don’t turn things around quickly. It’s still relatively early in the season, but it’s two team race in the East (Celtics and Cavs). For the Pistons, they want to be on that next tier—but if Detroit falls below that, it’s be anybody’s guess who stays and who goes.
Tobias Harris is leading the team in scoring at 19.1 ppg, but it’s Andre Drummond down low who is the mismatch every night. Drummond is averaging 14.1 ppg and 15.0 rpg. Additionally, the big guy is a career 39.6% free throw shooter, but is knocking down shots at the charity stripe 64% of the time this season.
The Pistons are 15-7-1 overall ATS and 9-4 away from home. For the over/under, Detroit is 10-13 overall and 4-9 away from home.
Milwaukee Bucks (12-10)
Since acquiring point guard Eric Bledsoe in a trade from the Suns, the Bucks are 8-4. Over his previous five games, Bledsoe is averaging 20.2 ppg on a ridiculous 58.6% shooting from the field. He’s been a fantastic addition to the man, the myth, the legend—the Greek Freak.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is the engine that drives the Bucks and the envy of every team that passed on him in the 2013 draft. Antetokounmpo is averaging 29.9 ppg and 10.2 rpg. His overall talent allows him to go toe-to-toe with any player in the league, including LeBron. His outside shot remains suspect, but he can get to the basket at will, handle-the-ball like a savant, and defend all five positions on the court.
Milwaukee is just two games over .500, but remain on the upswing as Antetokounmpo improves and the front office bolsters the talent around him. Former number two overall pick Jabari Parker should return mid-season to add some scoring punch.
The Bucks are 9-11-2 overall ATS and 3-6-1 at home. For the over/under, Milwaukee is 12-10 overall and 4-6 at home.
I trust the Greek Freak and Bledsoe more than I do the Pistons. If the spread was closer to double digits, I’d roll with Detroit, but the Bucks will get them by more than four at home. I’m putting 2500 units on Milwaukee based on the way the two teams have been playing of late and 500 units on the under.