Antetokounmpo and Parker do most of the Bucks’ damage — they are the only Milwaukee players scoring in double figures. Ex-Piston Greg Monroe, who comes off the bench, is third on the team with 9.6 points per game.
Antetokounmpo is called “the Greek Freak” for good reason. He leads the Bucks in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks per game, which is patently absurd and some LeBron-in-the-Finals level stuff. Parker is finally taking off in his third season (although the first was cut short by a torn ACL). He’s averaging 19.9 points a game and hitting 37.0 percent of his three pointers this season.
The first time Detroit and Milwaukee met back on October 30 (the third game for each team on the young season), the Pistons won 98-83 behind a 66-44 rebound advantage. Andre Drummond had 20 points and 23 rebounds in that one, while Antetokounmpo and Parker went a combined 11-32 from the field.
But that was pre-Reggie Jackson and the starting lineup shakeup his return and a bad stretch brought about, so it will be interesting to see how Detroit defends the young duo this time around.
Through two games, inserting Jon Leuer into the starting lineup for Tobias Harris has given a dead team some life. Detroit played Golden State to the wire and lost by six, and also beat Cleveland sans James by 16, a game where all of the starters and Harris scored in double figures.
It makes perfect sense why the change has seemingly rejuvenated the Pistons. Leuer doesn’t need the ball on offense, yet can still be effective with limited usage. Plus, he adds stability and size on the defensive end. Harris, meanwhile, gets more opportunities as he operates as the go-to scorer for the second unit, which seems to be working — he’s scored 26 and 21 points in the two games.
But it’s also important that we don’t make more out of this starting lineup change than need be. All three of Leuer, Harris and Marcus Morris still have the same roles and will play similar amounts of minutes, regardless of who’s starting. Right now, that’s Leuer instead of Harris because it’s allowed Detroit to shore up their defense at the beginning of each half.
SVG appears willing to tinker with his starting five when the matchup calls for it. Remember that for the Memphis game, SVG stated that Leuer was slated to start for Morris before Leuer’s pre-shootaround car accident threw a wrench into those plans.
But as for tonight, the Pistons will roll with the same new-look starting five with Harris coming off the bench.
Milwaukee, who is just 4-8 on the road this season, was on the second leg of a back-to-back the last time these two met, but both will be fresh heading into tonight. Detroit will be looking to (somewhat) salvage a disappointing 2-5 December home record.
The Bucks and the Pistons tip off tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET and the game will also be televised on NBA TV.