The Bucks have some work to do in order to return to the Eastern Conference Finals this season. They entered the All-Star break with a 46-8 record, best in the NBA, and currently sit 6.5 games ahead of the Raptors for the East’s No. 1 seed. However, there are still 28 games left to play. Milwaukee’s second-half push begins Thursday night when they take on the Pistons in Detroit.

The Bucks have won the first two meetings between the teams this season, including a 127-103 win at Little Caesar’s Arena in December. The Pistons have spiraled since that meeting, going 11-24 and losing star Blake Griffin for the rest of the season due to knee surgery. Detroit also experienced some turnover before the trade deadline, as they dealt center Andre Drummond to Cleveland in exchange for Brandon Knight, John Henson, and a 2023 second round pick. Along with the buyout of Reggie Jackson, the Pistons are left with just a bunch of spare parts, including starting 3 former Bucks, Tony Snell, Thon Maker, and Christian Wood.

Giannis Antetokounmpo should be very well-rested headed into this matchup. Although he did play 31 minutes in the All-Star Game, he hasn’t played in a regular season game since February 8. A new father, Giannis has had enough time off to allow him to continue his push for a second consecutive MVP and the No. 1 seed.

Expected starters:

MIL: Bledsoe, Matthews, Middleton, G. Antetokounmpo, B. Lopez

DET: Rose, Brown, Snell, Wood, Maker

Injuries: Kyle Korver (back) will be out for the Bucks while George Hill is finally expected to return to the rotation. Luke Kennard and Khyri Thomas are both out for the Pistons.

The spread: MIL -13.5

Time and TV: 6:00 PM CT on FS Wisconsin

Prediction: The Bucks are coming off of a week of rest, and are facing a team they’ve consistently dominated the past few years. There’s no reason the Bucks shouldn’t come away with a victory in this one. Bucks 120, Pistons 105