What: Detroit Pistons vs. Milwaukee Bucks
Where: The Palace of Auburn Hills Auburn Hills, MI
The 2nd game of the 2014 Detroit Pistons preseason schedule gets underway tonight as former Piston Brandon Knight will lead his Bucks against former Buck Brandon Jennings and the Pistons. The Pistons are coming off 111-109 OT win over the Bulls on Tuesday night in their preseason opener. I have three things to look for tonight against the Bucks.
1.) The shooting guard battle
This was #3 on my importance list for Tuesday’s game against the Bulls. However, after the game Kentavious Caldwell-Pope put up on Tuesday, 18 points 7/15 shooting 4/8 from deep, and the game Jodie Meeks put up, 13 points and shot 3/8 from deep, that makes it #1 on my list. The Pistons need shooting and both Caldwell-Pope and Meeks bring that, but the winner of the starting shooting guard is going to have to bring the intangibles: like defense, the little things that don’t show up on the box score, and playmaking. Keep an eye out for these two guarding Bucks rookie Jabari Parker and chasing around Knight and another former Piston Khris Middleton on defense. The shooting guard position has been in flux in Detroit since Richard “Rip” Hamilton was running off screens, the Pistons will look to end that.
2.) Closing out games
This was the Pistons problem last season, blowing too many games in the 4th quarter and eventually losing the game. It showed up again on Tuesday when the Pistons blew a 101-97 lead with 19 seconds left and had to go into overtime. They have to learn how to close out games, they can’t blow a 4 point lead in the final 20 seconds of a game. Overtime could’ve been avoided with sound play and execution. Kyle Singler missed a free throw late in the game and Caldwell-Pope fouled Tony Snell to allow the game tying free throws. It’s the little things down the stretch that win games.
3.) The front line rotation
This is going to be a recurring theme for me. The Josh Smith–Greg Monroe battle is going to be critical for this team’s success. Both players have come out and said that they have no problem coming off the bench. That’s great to hear, because one of them is going to have to come off the bench. On Tuesday, Smith started and Monroe came off the bench. Will that happen again tonight? Time will tell, but as long as I don’t see that Smith-Monroe-Andre Drummond front court anymore then I’ll be perfectly fine. The Pistons will be better with one of them off the bench.