The Milwaukee Bucks look to continue their mastery over the Detroit Pistons when the Central Division rivals meet Wednesday night in Milwaukee.
The Bucks rode 28 points from Giannis Antetokounmpo and 50 percent shooting to a 117-89 blowout win over the Pistons in Detroit earlier this month.
The win was Milwaukee’s 11th straight over the Pistons dating back to a 110-87 loss at Detroit in February 2018.
Antetokounmpo has played in all 11 of the wins. He had a 43-point explosion in a home win last January; a triple-double with 22 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists at Detroit later in the month; a 33-point, 16-rebound game at Detroit in February 2020; and three other double-doubles.
He was held to 11 points in the 2018 loss.
Khris Middleton has participated in eight of the 11 wins, going for 20 or more points on four of the occasions.
Once again, the Bucks enter this matchup in a favorable position. Not only have they won a season-best four in a row, but they had a night off after a 123-92 shellacking of Orlando on Monday, whereas the Pistons were enduring a 100-92 home loss to Miami on Tuesday night.
In losing their third in a row, the Pistons led the Heat by as many as 12, then 76-67 entering the final period, only to get outscored 33-16.
Jerami Grant led Detroit with 21 points as the club went without Isaiah Stewart, who began a two-game suspension for his run-in with LeBron James in the Pistons’ previous game. Stewart also will miss the Milwaukee game.
Rookie Cade Cunningham shot just 2-for-10 and totaled six points in the loss, which came in his first game since he responded to critics of his early struggles in the diary he writes for “The Undefeated.”
“A lot of people were trying to say I was a bust,” he wrote. “I thought that was pretty funny in my eyes. That’s something I took note of. Like: âAll right. Well, we’ll have to see about it.’ That caught my eye. I wasn’t doing no tripping. I’m not going to say I respected that, but I definitely heard it.”
Cunningham was held to six points in the earlier loss to the Bucks. He shot 2-for-14 that night, missing all nine of his 3-point attempts.
Coming off an NBA title, the Bucks heard similar criticism of their play over the first 14 games of the season, when they went 6-8. They were especially lackluster on defense, allowing all but one of their first 14 foes to top 100 points.
Coach Mike Budenholzer noted a big reason for the current winning streak is that his club has tightened the screws defensively. The Bucks have allowed an average of just 97.8 points during the run.
“I think we’re making progress defensively,” Budenholzer said. “I think defensively (we’re) getting better; that includes taking care of the boards better. We’ve got to continue it, whether it’s home or road, take advantage of (Tuesday’s day off), get better and be ready to play again on Wednesday.”