Bucks/Wizards: Preview

Bucks (23-40, 6-26 road, 13th East) @ Wizards (30-32, 17-14, 6th East)

Gametime: 6:00 pm CT
TV: FSN Wisconsin/League Pass/NBA Broadband
Radio: 620 WTMJ/Stream Free @ NBA.com

Bucks Stats: Offense 20th (102.3 pts/100 poss), Defense 30th (109.2), Rebounding 18th (.500 rr), Pace 20th (93.2)
Wizards Stats: Offense 13th (104.5 pts/100 poss), Defense 17th (105.7), Rebounding 14th (.505 rr), Pace 24th (92.4)

Bucks Lineup: Royal Ivey / Michael Redd / Desmond Mason / Charlie Villanueva / Andrew Bogut
Wizards Lineup: Antonio Daniels / Deshawn Stevenson / Darius Songaila / Antawn Jamison / Brendan Haywood

Bucks Injuries: Mo Williams is day-to-day with a strained abdomen. Yi Jianlian's return is also uncertain due to lingering injuries to his wrist and ankle.
Wizards Injuries: Caron Butler returned to practice yesterday for the first time since injuring his hip over a month ago. Gilbert Arenas has returned to practice after missing over three months with knee surgery. Etan Thomas has been out all season with a heart ailment.

07/08 Series: 1-1. The Wizards beat the Bucks 101-77 on Jan. 4 at the Bradley Center, before the Bucks exacted some revenge with a 105-102 OT win at home.

Key Points:

  • The Bucks are coming off a clumsy 119-97 home loss to the streaking Sixers, while the injury-riddled Wizards lost on Saturday 100-97 to the surprisingly hot Bobcats. That came a night after a 110-106 OT win in Toronto.
  • The Bucks have been making due without opening night starters Mo Williams (strained abdomen) and Yi Jianlian (wrist/ankle), but the Wizards certainly have it worse with the absence of two-thirds of their all-stars: Caron Butler (hip) returned to practice yesterday for the first time in a month, while Gilbert Arenas (knee) had his first practice last week after spending almost four months on the sidelines.
  • Bucks fans will be paying close attention to Andrew after his confounding 27-minute, 1-point, 2-rebound stinker on Sunday. The Bucks will need him to show some life against Wiz big man Brendan Haywood, who is having a solid season but has cooled off a bit after the all-star break (9.1 ppg/6.3 rpg/.477 fg% vs. 10.7/7.6/.536 before the break). Bogut's post-break numbers are still pretty solid (13.8 ppg, 10.8 rpg) but he's also seen a similar drop in his fg% lately (.470 vs. .511 before the break).
  • Antawn Jamison, the Wizards' lone healthy (former) all-star, is having arguably the best season of his career, scoring 21.4 ppg along with a career-best 10.4 rpg. The downside is that he's shooting more and at a lower clip (.429 vs. .454 career) but his rebound rate has inexplicably shot up from a below-average 12.1% of all available boards last year to a very respectable 15.5% this year. He's also posting a microscopic turnover rate of just 5.7 turnovers/100 possessions (that's 1.4 TOs per game).
  • Is there a more interesting cast of characters than the Wiz? It all starts with the NBA's preeminent blogger (Gilbert), but don't forget about guys like Butler (aka "Tuff Juice") and DeShawn Stevenson (aka "The Locksmith"). If you're wondering why Stevenson is rocking a caveman beard, here's a hint: it's for the same reason Drew Gooden has his. My favorite story: Butler's straw obsession.
  • Among those helping pick up the slack lately has been Roger Mason, who's averaged 15.7 ppg while making 10/21 triples the past three games. Rookie Nick Young has also posted three straight games in double digits, averaging 13.3 ppg on .556 shooting from the field. More importantly, he's capable of doing this.
  • With the Bucks already having solicited multiple opinions on Yi's ailing wrist, it's seemingly increasingly likely the Bucks may shut him down for the rest of the season--either to rest the injury or operate. At the moment however it's unclear what options the Bucks are weighing because--as unfortunately has become the norm--they aren't really saying anything publicly.

    "The doctors have to go another step further in their research of the situation," Yi said through interpreter Matt Beyer. "There's still more examinations they need to do, and the final result isn't known right now."

    Yi said he wasn't sure when the wrist injury occurred but indicated that it had become more painful in the past week. He also suffered a right shoulder injury and a sprained left ankle during the past two months, after staying healthy and starting the first 48 games of the season.

    C'mon Yi, throw us a bone. Either way, when you consider Yi's been playing non-stop since last April and (if healthy) he's got a full summer of hoops with the Chinese national team including the Olympics for much of August, now looks like a good time to give Yi a break. The Bucks have little to play for at this point and there's no point in having the rookie play through pain when he looks burned out.

  • One of our requests for the final 19 games? More Ramon, less Royal. No offense to Ivey, who's been a good soldier and done his best playing more than you'd like to see him have to play. Despite his offensive limitations and overrated defense, Ivey's provided pretty good value for a guy making less than a million bucks. Still, Sessions has more potential on both ends and at 21 he's only going to get better. The Bucks would be well-served giving him some experience in the season's final month--and they might even be better in the short-term, too.
  • Bullets Forever is required Wizards reading for those interested in more on today's opponent. Also, Wizznutzz is highly recommended, and for all DC-related sports Dan Steinberg's DC Sports Bog is as good as they come.
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