Wizards (23-18, 9-10 road, 5th East) @ Bucks (17-27, 12-7 home, 11th East)
Bucks Stats: Offense 20th (101.2 pts/100 poss), Defense 28th (107.9), Rebounding 15th (.503 rr), Pace 21st (93.0)
Wizards Stats: Offense 12th (105.2 pts/100 poss), Defense 17th (103.8), Rebounding 11th (.508 rr), Pace 19th (93.1)
Bucks Injuries: Desmond Mason is out another week or so with a torn ligament in his left thumb.
Wizards Injuries: Gilbert Arenas is out after undergoing knee surgery. Etan Thomas is out with a heart ailment.
07/08 Series: The Wizards beat the Bucks 101-77 on Jan. 4 at the Bradley Center.
- The Wizards improved to 9-3 this month with a 104-93 win over the Grizzlies on Friday. Each starter scored in double figures, led by Antawn Jamison's 24 points.
- The Bucks have slipped to 12th in the East, but remain within striking distance of the playoffs, just two games back of the Pacers. Larry Harris is disappointed but optimistic, according to Charles Gardner.
"But we've been good at home. I see the progress of our team. Our road record and home record is going to turn in February (the Bucks play 21 of their final 35 games at home). And now is the time we've really got to apply ourselves and win these games we're supposed to."
- Indeed, it's good to be home. The Bucks are a far superior team within the friendly confines of the Bradley Center. In fact, the Bucks have the biggest discrepancy (.431) in home winning percentage (.631) and road winning percentage (.200) in the Eastern Conference this season. The Bucks have the 13th best home record in the NBA and the 25th ranked road record.
- Rumors about the job security of Larry Harris have been swirling amid the Bucks' blemished standing. Ian Thomsen of SI.com offers a season second-half preview and, among other things, profiles some coaches under pressure, including a familar name.
Larry Krystowiak, Bucks: The enigmatic Bucks must begin to show a pulse for their coach.
- The Wizards started the season a disappointing 3-5. Then, star guard Gilbert Arenas opted to undergo knee surgery. In Arenas' absence, the Wizards have gone 20-13. While some may use those numbers to argue that the Wizards are better off without Agent Zero, that is probably both inaccurate and too simplistic. Just as the Bucks' 3-1 record and four game sample size without Michael Redd doesn't prove the Bucks would be winning at a 75.0 % clip without their star in the long run, an eight-game sample size with Arenas on the court is not representative of much either. In reality, the Wizards are a pretty good team without Arenas, led by two All-Star calibar players in Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison. If Arenas comes back, they are a threat to reach the conference finals. Keep in mind, the Wizards were 39-34 before Arenas' injury last year. They finished 41-41 and were swept in the first round without him. That's another small sample size, but it helps balance out the wrong idea based solely on this season that the Wizards are better off without their star.
- One reason the Wizards have stayed competitive without Arenas is the play of Antonio Daniels, perhaps one of the most underappreciated lottery picks in recent memory. He hasn't turned out anything like Chauncey Billups, who was selected one spot above him, but Daniels has long been a very solid point guard. In some ways, he's the anti-Stephon Marbury in that he passes well, doesn't shoot a lot, plays some defense, and is happy and successful in a backup or starting role. That is the type of player you want on your team. This year, he's averaging 8.8 points and 5.3 assists in a career-high 31.3 minutes. Daniels, who routinely ranks among the league leaders, sports the NBA's 11th best assist/turnover ratio, at 3.22.
- Last night, Michael Redd attempted seven three pointers and seven two pointers. Bobby Simmons attempted four from outside the arc and four from inside the arc. Mo Williams attempted four from outside and four from inside. Off the bench, Royal Ivey and Charlie Bell received the most minutes. Ivey attempted three from outside and three from inside. Charlie Bell attempted three from outside and two from inside. Overall, that group made 3-21 from long distance and 10-20 on two point attempts.
- Caron Butler is having a career year and should clearly be an All-Star. Marc Stein agrees. Butler is averaging 21.5 points, 6.9 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and ranks third in the NBA averaging 2.33 steals. Butler's probable matchup is Bobby Simmons, who at 6'7" and 228 pounds is virtually the identical size of Butler, 6'6" and 228 pounds. In recent games Simmons has played with the intensity and bounce in his step that he lacked earlier this season. Still, it's always a difficult task matching up with Butler, who works hard at both ends of the floor.
- Bullets Forever is required Wizards reading for those interested in more on today's opponent. Also, Wizznutzz is highly recommended.