Bad news: the Bucks’ home-heavy start to the season ended with a thud last night. The (maybe) good news: they don’t have to wait long for redemption, as they face off against the disappointing Wizards in Washington tonight.
The Bucks’ bandwagon blew a tire in the second half against the Hawks on Friday, conceding a 20-point halftime lead to drop their home record to a not-so-special 8-6. Their current 57% win rate to date is essentially equivalent to the 23-18 (56%) home mark the Bucks have held each of the past two seasons, all of which underscores how essential it is for the Bucks to be not terrible on the road. Last year they certainly were, winning just 10 times away from the BC en route to their disappointing 33-win campaign. In contrast, the 18-23 road record of the 14/15 season enabled them to claw out their encouraging 41-win season in Jason Kidd’s first campaign.
So far the Bucks have won a so-so three of seven away from home, downing a trio of lesser lights in the Nets, Magic and Pelicans. More problematically for tonight, they’ve been horrendous in all three of their road back-to-backs, losing by an average of 16 points while failing to score more than 83 points in losses in Detroit, Dallas and Miami.
Look for a bounce-back game from Giannis Antetokounmpo, who suffered through his worst game of the season against the Hawks and continues to handicap himself with one of the league’s highest foul rates. On the plus side, Jabari Parker is averaging 25.7 points over the last three games, though he’s shot under 50% each of the last three and has just seven rebounds in the last two games.
While they remain a disappointing 8-13 overall and 6-6 at home, the Wizards have scraped out two wins in their last three, winning in Brooklyn followed by a high-scoring home loss to the Magic and a grind-it-out 92-85 win over the Nuggets in DC on Thursday. Bradley Beal led the way with 26 points on 15 shots against the Nuggets, while John Wall added a modest 15 in his encore to the 52-point torching he put on the Magic in a losing cause earlier in the week.
The Wiz have been below average on both ends so far, though they’ve been a good offensive rebounding team (9th in OREB%) and have forced opponents into the second-highest turnover rate in the league. As for why they’ve struggled? Well, don’t blame the starters. Washington’s starting five is +9.0 points/100 in 343 minutes thus far, so for the Bucks to win tonight they’ll likely need to play the starters close and make hay against Washington’s beleaguered bench. While each of Scott Brooks’ starters scores in double figures and four of them have average or better PERs, no reserve scores more than 7.5.
Summer signing Ian Mahinmi and rookie free agent Danuel House have yet to play for their new club and won’t be in uniform tonight.