Following a rousing 119-98 victory for the Milwaukee Bucks over the Philadelphia 76ers, they kick off a back-to-back against the Washington Wizards on Monday night.
The Sixers gameplan took a hit less than five minutes into their game, losing Ben Simmons to a back injury that will keep him out for some time still, but the Bucks were still shell-shocking their opponent from the tip. Philly hung close with a large free throw disparity (14 attempts to two) at halftime, but it was all Milwaukee in the second half. Giannis Antetokounmpo needed just 29 minutes to amass 31 points, 17 rebounds and eight assists, and Khris Middleton kept his shot burner on high with a 10-15 performance for 25 points. Milwaukee exposed Philly’s depth, and it’s safe to assume they may do the same against this Wizards team.
The last matchup between these two was one of the strangest all year. First, the Bucks set a franchise record with 88 points in the first half, then the Wizards came roaring back with a 41-point third quarter before the Bucks shut their window down. Given the Wizards play no defense and fire away unconsciously on the other end, fans of offensive fireworks should enjoy this one.
Brook Lopez and Kyle Korver are both out for this one.
Player to Watch: Khris Middleton
Khris had to carry the load with Giannis out last time against the Wizards, and he proved more than capable. His career-high 51 points included 7-10 from deep and a perfect 12-12 from the charity stripe. His duel with Beal was a treat, but he won’t have to put forth the same effort with Giannis around. No matter though, I have a feeling he’d still like to put on a fitting encore.
Sitting at 20-35 and currently 3.5 games behind Orlando for the 8th seed, the Wizards don’t look likely to catch the Magic, but they continue to put together an exciting offensive season if nothing else. Scott Brooks has effectively punted on defense this year, allowing guys like Bradley Beal and Davis Bertans to jack up jumpers like there is no tomorrow. Case in point: yesterday’s 126-117 loss against the Chicago Bulls when Beal notched a career-high 53 and Bertans added 22. They rank 10th in terms of frequency of midrange shots, but are fifth in long midrange (outside of 14-feet, inside arc) per Cleaning The Glass, so look to see if the Wizards opt for those shots rather than smartly trying to kill the Bucks from deep, where the Wizards are a bottom ten team in terms of shot frequency. The Wizards will be playing the second game of a back-to-back, while this is a gear-up game for the Bucks taking on Toronto Tuesday.
The Wizards aren’t missing anyone major.
Player to Watch: Davis Bertans
The fact that Scott Brooks has just unleashed Bertans makes it hard to keep your eyes off him. The giant sniper from overseas will gladly fire away anytime, anywhere, over anyone, and it will be paramount that the Bucks keep him within their defensive sights at all times.
Game 57: Against Washington, the Bucks will...
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Win big (by 10 or more points)
Win close (by 9 or fewer points)
Lose close (by 9 or fewer points)
Lose big (by 10 or more points)