Pray. Seriously, it's hard to imagine the Bucks winning more than one game. Milwaukee limped into the postseason having lost seven of its last 11 to fall from the fifth spot to the eighth. The Bucks also lost three of four to the Pistons during the regular season, with their only victory coming last Monday, when the Pistons rested their starters.
The good news for Milwaukee is that the games were reasonably competitive, with one loss coming in OT and another coming after the Pistons erased an 18-point second-half deficit. Also, Michael Redd is just good enough to carry a team if he gets hot. He averaged 30 points on 55.0 percent shooting against the Pistons during the season, including a career-high 41 in his team's OT loss on Jan. 25.
The Bucks also might have a slight advantage in depth. Milwaukee's reserve corps of Mo Williams, Charlie Bell, Joe Smith, Toni Kukoc and Dan Gadzuric was a big part of the team's success early in the season. Milwaukee might need its bench to come up huge because its starting corps will have trouble matching up against Detroit. Neither Andrew Bogut nor Jamal Magloire can guard Rasheed Wallace outside, and T.J. Ford figures to have trouble containing the stronger Chauncey Billups at the top.
The Bucks also must overcome a huge disadvantage in playoff experience; seven of Milwaukee's 15 players will be making their first postseason appearance.
What the Pistons need to do
Stay focused on the Bucks. Don't look ahead. The Pistons didn't finish a league-best 64-18 by accident. Detroit is the better team and should cruise here as long as it doesn't completely overlook Milwaukee.
Billups, Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Rasheed Wallace and Ben Wallace make up the NBA's best starting unit. Antonio McDyess, Tony Delk, Lindsey Hunter, Maurice Evans, Carlos Delfino, Dale Davis and Kelvin Cato will give coach Flip Saunders what he needs off the bench.
The key for Detroit defensively will be to keep an eye on Redd. Hamilton will draw the main assignment, but it will be a team effort, as usual. The Pistons also might try to wear Redd down a little at the other by forcing him to chase Hamilton around the court and fight through screens.
Offensively, Billups (see below) and Rasheed Wallace present major matchup problems for Milwaukee. As long as the Pistons play their game and spread it around, they will generate enough offense. Their D will take care of the rest.
Chauncey Billups vs. T.J. Ford
Billups is a legitimate MVP candidate and the engine of the Pistons machine. He's not flashy, but he's strong and smart and extremely efficient. He'll also knock down big shots.
Ford is a 6-foot jet, one of the quickest point guards in the league. He likes to get up on his man and try to force steals. Unfortunately for the Bucks, Ford does not shoot well from outside. Also, Billups is not easily rattled.
The Pistons' guard led the NBA in assists-to-turnover ratio (4.11) and knows how to take care of the ball. On the other end, he can use his strength to bull his way into the paint and shoot over foes. With 68 playoff games under his belt, Billups also has a major edge over Ford in experience.
The Pistons and Bucks met in the first round of the playoffs two years ago, with Detroit winning in five games. The Pistons went on to beat the Lakers in the NBA Finals.
The Pistons have their eyes on the NBA title. The Bucks just want to win a game. Pistons in five.