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Bucks vs. Wizards Preview: Playoff Hopes Still Alive As Milwaukee Looks For Wiz Sweep

011/2012 NBA Season


29-31 (14-16 road) 15-46 (8-22 home)
April 18, 2012
Verizon Center
6:00 PM CT
Radio: 1250 WSSP TV: FSN Wisconsin ALTERNATE
Probable starters:
Brandon Jennings
John Wall
Monta Ellis SG Jordan Crawford
Carlos Delfino SF Chris Singleton
Ersan Ilyasova PF Jan Vesely
Drew Gooden C Kevin Seraphin

(12th) 106.1 - OFFENSE - 100.4 (29th)
(18th) 105.5 - DEFENSE - 107.5 (25th)
(4th) 93.4 - PACE - 92.5 (8th)

On the Wizards: Bullets Forever / Truth About It / Washington Post / DC Sports Bog

With the fading Sixers losing their fourth straight on Tuesday, the Bucks once again control their own destiny: win their last six games--including an all-important matchup with Philly at the BC--and they'll be in the playoffs regardless of what the Knicks and Sixers do from here on out. Piece of cake, eh? Something like that, but presumably the Sixers and Knicks will lose some games from here on out anyway, so absolute perfection likely won't be needed from the Bucks. What likely will be needed is a home win over Philly on April 25.

Coming off three days' rest, the Bucks finish the season with six games in nine nights, the first coming Wednesday night against the Wizards in Washington. The Bucks have already beaten the Wizards thrice this season, most recently a 112-98 win in Washington on April 2, but there's no time for them to slip up now.

Brew Hoop Night: Yes it's on and we're pumped. Details on getting tickets for this Saturday's game against the Nets can be found here and we'll post more on pre- and post-game plans for the night in the next day or two. We'll likely be meeting up at Major Goulsby's across from the BC before the game (starting around 5:30), so whether you have your own seats or are sitting in our group, be sure to stop by and say hello.

Middle of the pack. The Bucks have won 14 straight games against sub-.500 teams (using current records), with their last loss on 2/15 at home to the Hornets (don't remind me). The bad news is that they've also gone 3-14 in that span against teams with winning records, meaning that they've taken care of business...and then very little else. Paul Imig has more at FS-Wisconsin:

"You hate to say you play like your record, but I believe that's what we're playing like," Drew Gooden said. "We're playing like what our record says. There's some teams that have below .500 records, but you say, that team is a lot better than what their record says. I think right now we're playing into our record.

Brandon passes, too. Brandon Jennings totaled 10 assists in each of the past two games, the fifth and sixth times this season he's managed double-figure helpers this season and the first time in his career that he's done it in back-to-back games. For those scoring at home, Jennings had just four 10+ assist games last year and three as a rookie. Since the all-star break Brandon is averaging 19.1 ppg, 6.3 apg and just 2.0 turnovers on .437/.331/.791 shooting. I'll take that.

Hitting the Wall. I'm not sure why the Wizards' brass thought it would be a good idea to surround their young franchise cornerstone with a bunch of knuckleheads and youngsters, but it doesn't seem to be helping John Wall's development any. Wall's sophomore numbers are essentially unchanged from his rookie year, which is to say he has nice raw stats that become significantly less attractive when you factor in his poor shooting (49.4% true shooting last year, 50.2% this year) and high turnover rates (13.2% and 13.8%). Not too dissimilar from Jennings' first two seasons, though Jennings' second year numbers were clearly improved if you ignored the few weeks after he returned from his broken foot.

His youthful indiscretions with the ball alone won't preclude Wall from realizing his all-star potential, but the fact that there's so little obvious improvement is what will likely worry Wizards fans most. But circumstances matter, and it's difficult to expect Wall to carry a team that is both exceptionally young (23-year-old Jordan Crawford is the team's oldest starter right now) and so lacking in veteran leadership--consider that Andray friggin' Blatche was voted the team's captain before the season. That fact alone proved the Wiz were in serious trouble this year. Wall has struggled against the Bucks this year, hitting just 10/35 shots from the field.

Seraphin. Space-eating youngster Kevin Seraphin is making the most of JaVale McGee's departure and Nene's continued struggles with plantar fasciitis (day-to-day, 10 straight games missed). The young Frechman has notched eleven straight double-digit scoring nights and for the month of April is averaging 16.2 ppg, 7.7 rpg and 2.1 bpg on 52.5% shooting in 35.2 mpg--with the latter figure especially impressive given the difficulty most young big men have staying out of foul trouble.