The Detroit Pistons swapped two former Milwaukee Bucks player for another one in a trade last week that is starting to pay dividends with Tobias Harris in the starting lineup.
The Pistons are 2-0 since Harris became a starter and will try to end a four-game losing road streak against the Bucks on Saturday night.
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Detroit (29-29) acquired Harris from Orlando on Feb. 16 for guard Brandon Jennings and forward Ersan Ilyasova. All the players are former Bucks.
The Pistons have started Harris in the frontcourt alongside Marcus Morris and Andre Drummond in the last two games since Anthony Tolliver is out with a right knee sprain. Tolliver had replaced Ilyasova as a starter after the trade.
Harris has totaled 36 points on 57.7 percent shooting in Monday’s 96-88 win at Cleveland and Wednesday’s 111-91 victory over Philadelphia. Morris has 27 points and 12 assists in those games.
"We have a lot of young, athletic players, and it helps to have Andre back there in the paint," said Harris, who is averaging 18.3 points on 54.5 percent shooting in four games with Detroit. "I love being out there with Marcus, because we are both very versatile and we can play off of each other. He can help me and I can help him."
Detroit is in ninth place in the Eastern Conference as it seeks its first playoff berth in seven seasons.
Drummond, who leads the NBA with 14.9 rebounds per game, has posted 11 straight double-doubles to give him a league-high 49 – eight shy of his career best. The big man has 32 points and 38 rebounds in helping the Pistons split two meetings with the Bucks.
He is also shooting a league-worst 36.1 percent from the line, which would break Wilt Chamberlain’s record low of 38.0 in 1967-68.
Drummond will see a familiar face in the paint in former teammate Greg Monroe, who has 34 points and 26 rebounds in the season series. Monroe signed with Milwaukee (24-34) as a free agent after spending his first five seasons with Detroit.
The Bucks have also successfully utilized a recent lineup change by replacing Monroe and Michael Carter-Williams in the starting lineup with O.J. Mayo and Miles Plumlee. Milwaukee won four of its first five games since that move before Thursday’s 112-107 loss at Boston, allowing 20 fast-break points and committing 15 turnovers.
"The lineup change, we’ve had confidence, so that’s not the problem," coach Jason Kidd said. "We’ve got to take care of the ball. We had some turnovers there, also offensive rebounds."
Budding young stars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker have been playing well, although Antetokounmpo’s streak of four straight double-doubles ended Thursday as he finished with 14 points, eight assists and seven boards. Parker is averaging 22.0 points on 50.7 percent shooting in his last four games with 9.8 rebounds.
"The big thing is those two are growing and they’re getting better," Kidd said.
Milwaukee continues to rank among the best in the NBA with an average of 49.9 points in the paint while Detroit is first in average second-chance points at 15.3.
The Bucks have won seven of nine at the Bradley Center as they begin a five-game homestand. Sixteen of their final 24 games are at home.