Milwaukee (26-29) at Detroit (27-24)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Auburn Hills, MI
Temp: 83° F
  • Game info: 7:30 pm EST Tue Feb 17, 2009
  • TV: FSWI, FSD
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Allen Iverson and the Detroit Pistons aren’t playing nearly as well as expected. The Milwaukee Bucks, though, have yet to figure out what has made their Central Division rivals so vulnerable.

Coming off the All-Star break with their worst record in seven years, Iverson and the Pistons look to sweep a season series with the Bucks for the first time in their history Tuesday night.

Detroit’s acquisition of Iverson from Denver for Chauncey Billups hasn’t paid off this season.

The Pistons (27-24) have lost three straight, 12 of 17 and are 23-24 since trading for Iverson. After winning the NBA title five years ago during a stretch of six straight trips to the Eastern Conference finals, Detroit has its worst record following the All-Star break since it was 26-21 in 2002.

“It’s not a good feeling,” Iverson said. “The whole thing is to stay positive, stay together, not to point fingers and play the blame game.

“You don’t win a championship at the All-Star break.”

Iverson is averaging a career-low 18.2 points and was limited to two in 15 minutes for the Eastern Conference in Sunday night’s All-Star game, which the West won 146-119.

But, with Iverson playing somewhat effectively, Detroit has had little trouble versus Milwaukee (26-29), winning all three meetings entering the teams’ final one of the season. The Pistons have never swept a season series with the Bucks.

Iverson is shooting 39.0 percent and averaging 20.7 points—nearly seven below his career average—against Milwaukee this season, but he has shot 88.2 percent from the free-throw line and is posting 7.3 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 3.0 steals a contest.

The veteran guard had 26 points on Wednesday night, but the Pistons lost 99-95 to Atlanta in their last game before the break.

Detroit, in seventh place in the East, may decide to deal one of its top players before Thursday’s deadline. The Bucks are in eighth place, three games behind the Pistons, but they don’t have much flexibility to make any moves.

Star shooting guard Michael Redd (knee) is out for the season, center Andrew Bogut (back) will miss at least seven more weeks and point guard Luke Ridnour (thumb) will be out a minimum of three weeks.

The Bucks, though, have managed to compensate by changing their style, going to a quicker pace on offense and scoring at least 120 points in three straight games since losing Ridnour, going 2-1.

In its first year under coach Scott Skiles, Milwaukee has already reached last year’s win total after a 122-110 win over Indiana last Wednesday.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen for these remaining games. We’re asking these guys to do an awful lot. We’ve lost three key players here,” Bucks general manager John Hammond said. “I think everyone would probably understand if we would have stayed healthy, we were on our way to a good, solid year.”

Richard Jefferson has picked up most of Redd’s scoring load. The veteran forward, who was acquired in a trade with New Jersey in the offseason, is averaging 28.5 points in his last two games.

Jefferson, however, has averaged 13.0 points in his last two games against Detroit.

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Tuesday, Feb 17