Bucks vs. Wizards Preview: Bucks visit Washington hoping to return to winning ways

Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE

Less than 24 hours after yet another home loss, the Bucks return to the road looking for a second win in as many tries in Washington.

2012/2013 NBA Season
Was
(20-42, 15-17 home)
vs.
Mil_medium
(32-30, 16-15 road)
March 13, 2013
Verizon Center | Milwaukee, WI
6:00 CT
No Local | 620 WTMJ
Probable Starters
John Wall PG Brandon Jennings
Garrett Temple SG Monta Ellis
Martell Webster SF Luc Mbah a Moute
Nene PF Ersan Ilyasova
Emeke Okafor C Larry Sanders
2011/12 Advanced Stats
92.1 (13th) Pace 94.7 (3rd)
98.4 (30th) ORtg 103. (21st)
102.0 (5th) DRtg 104.3 (10th)

On the Wizards: Bullets Forever | Washington Post Wizard Insider | Truth About It|D.C. Sports Bog

Wiz update. The Wizards boast the worst offense in the league and hadn't broken 100 points in six games before Tuesday's 104-87 home win over the Bobcats. Lottery pick Bradley Beal missed his third straight game with a sprained ankle, but the Wiz got 19+ points from Trevor Ariza, Nene and Martell Webster as they cracked 100 points for the first time in seven games. They followed that up with a disappointing 95-90 loss to the Kyrie Irving-less Cavaliers last night, wasting a 27-point, 14-assist night from John Wall as Beal was again sidelined. Ariza also suffered a knee injury in Cleveland that will likely keep him out of the lineup tonight.

Offensive struggles aren't anything new for the Wizards, who rank 25th or worst in each of the four factors (eFG%, turnover rate, free throw rate, OReb%). But despite their poor record, Randy Wittman's club has done one very important thing very well all season: defend. Washington ranks 5th in eFG% allowed and are 6th in defensive rebounding, the primary drivers of their 5th overall ranking defensively.

Beal or no Beal. The third overall pick in last summer's draft was finally rounding into form when he was shelved by injury, offering Wizard fans plenty of hope for the future. Since the all-star break, the former Florida one-and-doner has shot an exquisite .490.455/.781 while scoring an impressive 20.3 ppg and grabbing 6.9 rpg. He's also shot 55% in two games against the Bucks, including 28 points when the teams last met in Milwaukee, so you can bet Jim Boylan and company will be crossing their fingers that former Buck Garrett Temple starts again in Beal's absence.

Another brick in the Wall. Big things were expected of John Wall when Washington made him the first overall pick in the 2010 draft, but so far there's still a lot of waiting going on. Wall is unquestionably exciting, physically gifted, and still brimming with promise, but a knee injury cost him the first two months of this season and overall he's shown precious little improvement since his erratic rookie season two years ago. He still can't shoot (five threes in his last 95 games) or score efficiently (TS% betwen 49% and 50% in each of his three seasons) and turns it over far more than you'd like (at least 3.6 turnovers/game every season), but he's a natural creator (career-high assists/36 of 8.7 this season) with tremendous physical talent at the tender age of 22.

He's also not short on confidence, having told Grantland's Zach Lowe he still feels like he's worthy of the max contract extension he'll be eligible for this summer. Lowe's piece is definitely worth a read, though be warned that Lowe's questions are far more insightful than Wall's answers.

Brandon needs a bounce-back. Speaking of young point guards who want to be paid a ton: Brandon Jennings everyone! Things had been going rather well for Jennings in the month of March up until yesterday's home loss to the Mavericks, when he was, ahem, subdued by the 37-year-old Mike James and fellow 2009 draft classmate Darren Collison. Jennings contributed just five points and five assists while watching much of the fourth quarter on the bench, as the Bucks found more success behind the suddenly-reliable Monta Ellis (32 points, 9 ast) and shooting tandem of J.J. Redick (17 pts) and Mike Dunleavy (18 pts). Kudos to Jim Boylan for playing the guys who gave him the best chance to win, especially given the potentially awkward post-game questions it inspires.

"I didn't think the rhythm of the game was going real well, and I needed to pick it up a little bit, change some things," Boylan said. "I felt like we could make a little bit of a run, so it was a coach's decision to bring J.J. back in the game."

Ersan. Not a great return from injury for Ersan Ilyasova last night (7 pts, 3/9 fg, 3 rebs, 23 min), but hopefully that's just a matter of Ilyasova getting back in the swing of things after missing two games with a sore knee. Going up against the big bodies of Nene and Emeka Okafor won't make it easy for Ilyasova tonight, as it will once again come down to what Ilyasova can do outside vs. the Wizards' advantage inside. Back on February 11, Ilyasova tallied 19/9 while Nene and Okafor combined for 33 points on 21 shots with 23 rebounds in a 102-90 Wizard win in Milwaukee.

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