Pistons will have hands full trying to slow surging Bucks

NBA

The Milwaukee Bucks have at least a dozen reasons to feel good about themselves heading into their game at Detroit on Wednesday.

The Bucks carry a 12-game winning streak into the Central Division matchup. What’s more, they have owned the Pistons since the beginning of last season. They swept the four-game regular-season series and their first-round playoff series.

In the first meeting this season, the Bucks emerged with a 104-90 home win on Nov. 23.

“We’re having fun, man,” reigning Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo said to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “When you win, it’s all great and nice. But at the end of the day, I think we, as a team, the atmosphere is great.”

Their last two wins have been nothing short of overwhelming. They crunched Charlotte, which has beaten Detroit three times this season, 137-96 on Saturday and clobbered the New York Knicks 132-88 on Monday.

Antetokounmpo piled up 29 points, 15 rebounds and three assists in just 22 minutes against the Knicks. He has 20 double-doubles already this season.

Forward Khris Middleton had 16 points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes in his return to the lineup. Middleton came off the bench for three games after missing 2 1/2 weeks with a thigh injury.

“Donte (DiVincenzo) did a hell of a job (as a starter), taking my place and I was all for it,” Middleton said to the Journal-Sentinel. “He was playing well, the team was playing well. I was glad I was able to come back in the starting lineup and not mess things up.”

The Bucks are winning so convincingly that their starters can take the fourth quarter off.

“It was good for us to get everybody out on the court (and) some other guys not play heavy minutes,” coach Mike Budenholzer said. “These can kind of add up during the season.”

Milwaukee center Brook Lopez could return to the lineup on Wednesday. He’s missed the last two games due to back soreness.

“Brook we’re hoping is pretty short term,” Budenholzer said. “I think giving him a couple games is going to be really wise in the long run. So we’ll see how he feels, and unless something changes, he’ll travel with us, and I think we’re hopeful maybe he’ll play Wednesday.”

The Pistons have won back-to-back games for the first time this season. They defeated San Antonio 132-98 on Sunday and Cleveland 127-94 on Tuesday. It’s the first time in franchise history they’ve won consecutive games by 30 or more points.

“Now we’ve got to go do it against a team like Milwaukee. That’s our major challenge,” coach Dwane Casey said. “We’re building it, we’re getting better, but we’re still not there yet. I’m not saying we’re a finished product by any means, but we’re getting there. We’re taking steps in the right direction.”

The Pistons have scored 30-plus points for eight straight quarters. Against the Cavaliers, they shot 54.3 percent from the field and made more than half of their 3-point attempts.

“We’re playing to our identity offensively,” Casey said. “We’ve just got to continue to get better defensively and do it on a consistent basis.”

Forward Blake Griffin scored 24 points and sat out the fourth quarter on Tuesday, but it’s uncertain if he’ll suit up against Milwaukee. Griffin hasn’t played in both ends of a back-to-back since returning from hamstring and knee injuries that cost him 10 games.

–Field Level Media

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