Thursday, February 22, 2024
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NBA Preview: Milwaukee Bucks (28-13) at Detroit Pistons (4-37)

The Detroit Pistons won just four games in the first half of their season but shift their focus to what’s ahead in the second half.

The Pistons host a pair of games against the Bucks — Saturday afternoon and Monday night — and Milwaukee has won 19 of the last 20 regular-season meetings between the teams, including seven in a row.

Milwaukee already has collected two wins over the Pistons this season, a 120-118 squeaker on Nov. 8 and a 146-114 blowout on Dec. 16.

Yet the Pistons enter Saturday’s game showing a competitive spirit in their last three games this month. They fell 112-100 to the Houston Rockets on Friday before seeing some rare success.

Detroit snapped a seven-game losing streak by defeating the Washington Wizards 129-117 on Monday, then lost to the Western Conference-leading Minnesota Timberwolves 124-117 on Wednesday.

With Cade Cunningham sidelined by a knee injury, second-year guard Jaden Ivey has asserted himself offensively. Ivey had 24 points and six assists against the Wizards, then tied his career high with 32 points and six assists against the Timberwolves.

Cunningham could be back next week after being cleared by the Pistons to upramp on-court work on Friday.

Mike Muscala made his Pistons debut on Wednesday after being acquired from Washington in a trade involving four players and two draft picks on Sunday. The veteran big man went scoreless in 15 minutes but had three rebounds, two assists and two blocks.

Danilo Gallinari, who also was traded to Detroit, suited up but didn’t play.

The Bucks had a three-game winning streak snapped in an embarrassing 135-95 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday. The Bucks are 28-13 entering the second half of their schedule.

Giannis Antetokounmpo didn’t play against the Cavaliers due to a right shoulder contusion. Cleveland led 66-41 at halftime and piled up 42 third-quarter points, convincing coach Adrian Griffin to pull his starters the remainder of the contest.

Milwaukee looked lost without its superstar forward, with Antetokounmpo delivering 31.2 points, 11.4 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game, not to mention his defensive presence.

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