The Bucks may have strengthened their offense with the free agent signing of Greg Monroe, but their lax defense could result in a high scoring game vs. Monroe’s old team the Pistons.
After defense was a strength of the home team in a surprising playoff run last season, that unit has been a weakness this year and could lead to an ‘over’ Monday night when the improved Detroit Pistons (7-6, 7-6 ATS) pay a visit to those seemingly regressing Milwaukee Bucks (5-8, 5-8 ATS) at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, WI at 8:05 ET in a game available on FOX Sports - Wisconsin.
The posted total at Pinnacle Sports is 191 for this contest with the current odds on the ‘over’ set at -104.
Regression to the Mean?
The Bucks turned a lot of heads by unexpectedly going 41-41 last season and making the playoffs as the sixth seed, taking the Chicago Bulls to six games in the first round. Say what you will about Coach Jason Kidd, but he has now taken two teams to the playoffs in his first two years of coaching at any level after doing the same with the Brooklyn Nets two seasons ago. However, is seems regression is in order so far this year with the Bucks standing at 5-8.
The Pistons overcame a horrific start last season to actually get back into playoff contention, and Detroit is hoping for a return to the playoffs this season. Yes the Pistons have been the losing NBA pick in five of their last seven games after beginning the season 5-1, but they are still over .500 at 7-6, a far cry from their disastrous 5-23 start last year!
Defense? What Defense?
As nice a year as the Bucks had last year, it did end on a sour note with a 120-66 demolition at the hands of the Bulls in that decisive Game 6. After defense had been a key reason for the Milwaukee playoff run and .500 record while ranking eighth in the league in points against at 97.4 per game, those 120 points allowed in the finale have turned out to be a precursor for the severe lack of defense Milwaukee is playing this year.
The Bucks have gone from eighth in points against to 24th this season at an alarming 105.2 per game while also ranking 26th in field goal percentage allowed at 46.4 percent. Furthermore, the defense has not existed the last three games while allowing a hideous 117.7 points per game on 53.4 percent shooting, and that includes allowing the Indiana Pacers to score 68 points and shoot 63.4 percent in the second half of a 123-86 Milwaukee loss on Saturday!
Granted the Bucks should be better offensively this year thanks to the signing of free agent Greg Monroe, who should be extra motivated here taking on his former teammates from Detroit. However, Monroe is a defensive liability that may be the root to Milwaukee’s defensive troubles as a team, as there is no way the Bucks could bench him while he is averaging nearly a double-double with 16.2 points and 9.9 rebounds per game and shooting 52.1 percent from the field.
Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside
The Pistons could afford to let Monroe walk as they slapped a franchise tag on Andre Drummond, who has continued to dominate opponents on the interior while averaging an unbelievable 18.4 points and 17.8 rebounds, with that rebounding average leading the NBA by a sizable margin over DeAndre Jordan (13.0) in second. And Drummond is just half of the Pistons’ inside / outside game along with Reggie Jackson, who leads the club averaging 20.4 points.
With Drummond in the paint and Jackson, now more comfortable in the Detroit system after coming over in mid-season from Oklahoma City last year, manning the perimeter, the Pistons have become a bit of a matchup nightmare for even the better defenses in the league, let alone a seemingly defenseless team like Milwaukee.
The Pistons’ starting unit can play with anyone in the league, but the concern around Detroit is depth, as the team is dead last in the NBA in bench scoring at just 19.6 points per game. However, facing a defense like Milwaukee possesses should result in an uptick in the scoring all the way around.
Trending the ‘over’
Finally, the ‘over’ is now 5-0 in the Bucks’ last five games overall as well as 5-0 in their last five games after allowing 100 points or more in their previous game. The ‘over’ is also 13-5-1 in the Pistons’ last 19 games inside the Eastern Conference.
While we respect what the Jazz are doing defensively, this total simply seem too low vs. a team like Toronto so go ‘over’ when the Raptors visit Utah at Salt Lake City on Wednesday.
NBA Pick: Pistons, Bucks ‘over’ 191 (-104)