clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Wizards vs. Bucks Preview: Washington welcomes Giannis, Jabari for home opener

The Eastern Conference competition stiffens when the Bucks travel to D.C. for the Wizards' home opener.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
2014/2015 NBA Season
(1-1, 0-1 away)
(1-1, 0-0 home)
November 1, 2014
Verizon Center | Washington, D.C.
6:00 CT
FS Wisconsin | AM 620 WTMJ
Probable Starters
Brandon Knight PG John Wall
Khris Middleton SG Garrett Temple
Jared Dudley SF Paul Pierce
Jabari Parker PF Nene
Larry Sanders C Marcin Gortat
2014/15 Advanced Stats
96.4 (6th) Pace 93.4 (17th)
98.1 (23rd) ORtg 107.1 (14th)
93.2 (4th) DRtg 109.8 (24th)

On the WizardsBullets ForeverWashington PostTruth About It

OOOOOOOOOO FOORRRRTUUUUUNNNAAAAAA. In case you missed it: Hard to get much more epic than this opener.

Wizards Update. Washington finds themselves in a Thunderesque situation (though to a lesser degree), hoping to make the best of an early-season absence for top shooting guard Bradley Beal. They've split their first two games, falling to the Heat in their season-opener before knocking off the Magic on Thursday.

In Beal's absence, John Wall has continued his ascension to stardom, if he wasn't clearly there already. Wall has averaged 23 points and over 11 assists through Washington's first two games, hitting over 50% of his two-point shots and adding a pair of steals in each contest. He might not quite be challenging Chris Paul for the title of "NBA's Best Point Guard," but he's firmly in that elite class. The Wiz have also gotten good production from Marcin Gortat (19/9.5 game) and free-agent acquisition Paul Pierce, who's gotten off to a hot-shooting start and is averaging over 16 points per game.

The Next Big Test. Charlotte is a solid, improving team with every intention of competing for a high playoff seed this year, but the Wizards are still a cut above the Hornets. The Bucks dominated much of Wednesday's season opener but couldn't ultimately secure the victory, and now they go on the road to face another hungry squad playing its first game in front of the home crowd. This will be the toughest game Milwaukee has played in the young season, and for rookie Jabari Parker it also means his first experience with back-to-back games, made all the more difficult by overnight travel.

Tight road schedules can spell trouble for a young team like Milwaukee, whose "veterans" remain quite young in more absolute terms. But to the Bucks' credit, they've played with good energy in the first two games of the season, and they've gotten great production from one of the team's "elder statesmen..."

Whoa. J. Mayo. These are the sort of eye-popping numbers a player can rack up in a tiny sample of games: per-36 minutes, O.J. Mayo is averaging nearly 30 points, 4.2 rebounds, 5.5 assists, and has a true shooting percentage of 79.2. The man has been engulfed in flames since the middle of the preseason and shows no sign of slowing down.

He will. Rest assured, some of those rocket fuel heat checks will start clanging off the rim, and Mayo's numbers will settle into something much less stunning. But that doesn't mean he's destined to revert to last season's form. Mayo's shooting is certainly unsustainable--he's taken more than half of his shot attempts from behind the arc and sunk over 60% of them--but he's been filling the exact role Milwaukee hoped he would when the team gave him a three-year deal last summer. He's used about a quarter of the Bucks' possessions during his time on the court while also keeping his assist rate high. And he's been rock-solid as a ball handler, committing only two turnovers in 52 minutes of action. In short, when Mayo handles the ball, the Bucks are likely to at least get a shot off, and right now those shots are going in a lot.

Fantasy Players to Watch. Jabari Parker was an early-round selection in many leagues, but through two games his usage sits at just 16.4 percent, limiting his scoring potential. There have been a lot of mouths to feed in the early going for Milwaukee, but expect to see Parker's role increase as the season continues.

For Washington, Nene has never been an exceedingly strong rebounder, but his numbers through two games are much lower than usual. He could bounce back against a Bucks team that's had trouble controlling the glass, despite a 55-42 edge on the boards last night against Philly.

Don't forget, SB Nation partner Fan Duel is hosting a $20,000 NBA fantasy league for tonight's games. Here's the link to join.