Bucks, eyeing No. 2 seed in East, take on Pistons

The Milwaukee Bucks will attempt to strengthen their hold on second place in the Eastern Conference when they hit the road for a meeting with the Detroit Pistons on Friday night.

Milwaukee pulled off a 127-121 win over Boston on Thursday night, giving the Bucks (50-30) a half-game edge over the Celtics (50-31) as the teams chase the No. 2 seed in the East. The Bucks follow their visit to Detroit with their regular-season finale at Cleveland on Sunday, the same day the Celtics play their lone remaining game, at Memphis.

The Bucks went into halftime on Thursday with a commanding 69-59 lead but trailed by three with 2:27 left before closing the game on a 9-0 run.

Milwaukee’s Jrue Holiday amassed 29 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 29 points and 11 rebounds, and Khris Middleton went for 22 points, nine assists and eight rebounds.

Holiday and Antetokounmpo were vital down the stretch, scoring 14 of Milwaukee’s 25 fourth-quarter points.

With the postseason not far off, Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer is weighing how the starting lineup should look for the remainder of the regular season.

“We’ll spend a lot of time talking about it,” Budenholzer said. “We’ll get guys some ice and shower and recovery, and as a staff and as a sports performance staff, we’ll visit about it and decide what we want to do.”

Grayson Allen will not be part of the game plan, though, as he continues to sit out with a hip injury.

Guard Luca Vildoza also could make his debut Friday after he signed with Milwaukee on Wednesday.

Detroit (23-57) is looking to bounce back after falling 131-113 to the visiting Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday. The Pistons’ defense struggled all night, as Dallas shot 56.3 percent overall and 45.5 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.

Pistons rookie Cade Cunningham recorded 25 points, nine assists and seven rebounds. Isaiah Stewart supplied 19 points and 14 rebounds, and Braxton Key tallied 14 points and five rebounds off the bench.

Despite the loss, Detroit has been on a nice stretch, winning three of its past four games.

“I feel like we’re taking our own steps. I feel like we’re not trying to mimic (any) other team,” Stewart said. “I feel like we’re just trying to build back up Detroit basketball.”

Cunningham has been particularly impressive, scoring at least 20 points in 12 of his past 16 games. He is averaging 21.7 points, 6.7 assists and 5.6 rebounds during that span and has posted four double-doubles.

“Cade, he’s him for sure. I told him he’s the one,” Stewart said. “Just the way he plays, the way he leads out there, those kind of players just don’t come around 24/7.”

Pistons big man Marvin Bagley III will miss the game against the Bucks with a hip injury, while Cory Joseph is questionable because of a back injury. Kelly Olynyk is also listed as day-to-day after missing the contest with Dallas due to rest, and Rodney McGruder is day-to-day with a hip injury.

The Bucks lead the season series with the Pistons 2-1 after earning wins on Nov. 2 and Nov. 24, but they fell 115-106 in the teams’ most recent matchup on Jan. 3.

–Field Level Media

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