Preview: Bucks vs. Pistons
The small forward sprained his left ankle early Monday in Detroit’s 110-83 loss to Oklahoma City. Head coach Dwane Casey said Bullock would miss the game after he was unable to participate in the team’s practice session Tuesday. Bullock didn’t travel with the team to Milwaukee and his return is questionable for the Pistons’ next game, Friday at home against the 76ers.
Bullock is averaging 10.1 points in 18 games this season and has been one of the Pistons’ better outside scoring threats this season, connecting on 35 percent of his 3-point attempts and 39 percent of his shots overall.
Luke Kennard saw most of the action in Bullock’s place Monday after missing most of the previous five weeks with an injury but went 0-for-5 from the floor, including 0-for-4 from beyond the arc while committing a pair of turnovers.
“He was real rusty,” Casey said Tuesday. “Had it in second gear. I thought he avoided some situations, whether it was screens or cracking people, whatever it was, not wanting to hit his shoulder. He needs a little more time.”
“We’re going to do what’s best to get a good start,” Casey said. “(Bench chemistry) plays into it some, but we’re going to think the whole picture — not just to break up the bench. We need to have a good start. We need physical toughness, mental toughness, a lot of things that we did not display last night.”
Missing Bullock is good news for the Bucks. While their offense has surged to life under new head coach Mike Budenholzer’s mantra of “Let it Fly,” they’ve struggled with stopping opponents from doing the same.
Milwaukee, the league leader in 3-point makes (14.6) and No. 2 team in attempts (40.5), is giving up an average of 12.7 3-pointers on 35.5 attempts per game, ranking second and first, respectively.
The Bucks are still 9-3 when their opponents attempt 36 or more 3-pointers but their defensive efficiency has slipped from first to sixth as a result and Budenholzer isn’t overly keen on giving opponents more opportunities to score.
“I think we would just like to reduce the volume in general,” Budenholzer said. “I think we need to be better guarding the ball, I think we need to be better at the point of screens. … I think it’s fair to say that’s something that’s easier said than done, but we’ll see if we can get that done.”
Milwaukee (15-7) is coming off an overtime loss to the Knicks, who were shooting 33.1 percent from distance coming into the game but knocked down 20 of 34 against the Bucks.
“When we watched the clips, part of it was we were giving them open shots,” Khris Middleton said. “They’re NBA players — you keep giving them open shots, at some point, they’re going to knock them down and they did that.”
The Bucks have won four straight over Detroit in Milwaukee and five of the last seven overall meetings between the two teams, who split their four-game season series a year ago.