It’s been a while since we’ve had Bucks basketball to look forward to. Milwaukee is riding an 8-game winning streak, and has won 13 of their last 14. That one blemish (a 22-point loss to the San Antonio Spurs) is primarily due to giving up 19 made threes and an 11% deficit in field goal percentage on the road. They’re leading the league at 40-6, a full four games ahead of the West-leading Los Angeles Lakers. On top of all that, they may be returning to the US at full strength: Robin Lopez was kept home with an illness (and it’s assumed that he’s feeling better), and George Hill is probable with a hamstring injury.
Player to Watch: Giannis Antetokounmpo
UPDATE: Giannis is out tonight. He’s still worth watching.
Giannis was close with Kobe. Famously, Giannis refused to work out with any other players active in the league – he’s as private about his craft as he is obsessive over it – but sprung to take advantage of the opportunity once Kobe retired.
Look at the joy in their faces.
Listen to the joy in Giannis’ voice.
"Yesterday was a horrible day. For basketball, for everybody...I send my deepest condolences to Vanessa and the kids." pic.twitter.com/aqELqvyhew— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) January 27, 2020
Compare the first two items to what you see in the third, from media availability on Monday.
Of all the players who feel like they want to give the game their all, as an homage to Bryant, Giannis just might take it the furthest. Tonight is our first chance to see what that looks like.
Washington started the season with some faint hopes at a low playoff seed, and those hopes are all but dashed. John Wall will likely not return until next season, and intriguing rookie Rui Hachimura is out for some time longer. The Wizards play fast and loose, emphasis on “loose” when it comes to their league-worst defense. This is the last game of a four-game road trip, and on Sunday night they gave up 152 to Atlanta in a loss. Fan-favorite Gary Payton II is starting in the backcourt, next to one-time MVP candidate Isaiah Thomas. The opening line of a recent Bullets Forever feature focusing on the large-scale cultural renovation needed for the franchise:
Gilbert Arenas once took a sh*t in his teammate’s shoe.
It’s been tough.
Player to Watch: Bradley Beal
Beal is the Wizards’ best player by a country mile, and he’s indicated through his extension that he wants to be nowhere else. A popular trade target for good teams poaching on bad teams with good players, Beal had this to say about Bryant’s passing on Sunday:
“It’s kind of like a numbing feeling — you don’t want to believe it,” Beal said. “We all grew up watching him, admiring him. Everybody has their own opinion about him, but he did have a change in his game. He changed the game. He had a huge impact on it, especially on me being in his position.”
(updated as of 2:00pm central)
Game 47: Against Washington, the Bucks will...
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