Preview: Bucks vs. Pistons

Malcolm Brogdon and his Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Pistons 119-94 on Dec. 28.
Leon Halip-USA TODAY Sports

MILWAUKEE — The Detroit Pistons will try and keep their momentum going when they travel to Milwaukee Monday night to take on the Bucks at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

The Pistons come to town off one of their most impressive victories of the season. They rallied from a 16-point deficit to force overtime Sunday at Toronto, closing out the comeback when Kantavious Caldwell-Pope nailed a go-ahead 3-pointer with 13 seconds to play.

“I’m really excited about it. Even at the end of the third when we were down 16 and struggling, I said to the assistants, ‘Our guys are playing hard and fighting,'” head coach Stan Van Gundy said. “They fought and fought and fought. It wasn’t easy — it wasn’t one of those runs where you hit three or four threes in a row.

“Just grind it out and get it down to a manageable number and then got a couple big stops and a great shot down the stretch.”

The victory was big for Detroit, which moved into a tie with Chicago for the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

The Bucks are one of three teams chasing the Pistons for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. Milwaukee, which has lost 12 of its last 15 games, is tied with Miami two games behind the Pistons, with the Hornets standing in between.

And even without Jabari Parker, who was lost for the season with a torn ACL last week, the playoffs are still a goal for the Bucks, who are trying to go into the All-Star break on a high note.

“(We need to) try to win as many of these games as we can,” rookie point guard Malcolm Brogdon said. “(We’re) trying to not dig a bigger whole these last few games going into the All-Star break so we can come out of it with a little bit of momentum in the second half.”

In their first game after losing Parker, the Bucks were embarrassed by the Lakers, who cruised to a 122-106 victory. Milwaukee almost pulled off an unlikely comeback attempt in that contest.

But 24 hours later, the Bucks looked like a completely different team, knocking down a season-high 17 3-pointers in a 116-100 victory over the Indiana Pacers.

“When we get stops and we get out and run, that’s when we’re at our best,” center Greg Monroe said. “I think we did a good job of that. The ball was moving. Guys were getting their hands on balls and getting out and running. Guys were making shots from long range.

“It was definitely a complete game for us and it’s a game that we needed.”

The biggest factor for the Bucks was coming out strong to start the game. They’ve outscored their opponent by an average of one-half point per game this season in the first quarter, but have trailed by an average of 7.7 points in their last three contests.

Against Los Angeles, Milwaukee allowed 47 points on 82 percent shooting while the Pacers shot just 33 percent from the floor and scored 22 points over the first 12 minutes.

“We’ve been scarred a little bit in having to dig ourselves out of a hole,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said. “We got off to a better start. It wasn’t easy. Now can we bottle this up and finish on a positive note (before the All-Star break).”

Khris Middleton is expected to be available Monday. He’s played two games since returning from a torn hamstring suffered during the offseason but did not travel with the team to Indiana.