One word to describe the Milwaukee Bucks season so far: Uncertain.
One word to describe the Washington Wizards season so far: Gratification.
Each is a sort of microcosm of the two sides of the playoff-hopeful coin in the NBA. You have your teams who have been there and look content to punt the early games in lieu of rest or scheme changes, and you have your teams coming out the gate at a sprint to pad their win total as heavily as possible. The Bucks will presumably right their ship with time and, critically, health, while the Wizards may slow once the true grind of the season sets in. For tonight, they clash coming it at different paces.
Where We’re At
The Bucks are coming in fresh off a frustrating loss to the New York Knicks on Friday night, 98-113. They were red hot from the floor to start the game, dropping 38 points on the Knicks with Grayson Allen notching 14 points alone. And then... well, then they just kind of stopped making everything and the Knicks chipped away at the lead. It is generally a bad thing when your entire team is only able to score 35 points in an entire half of basketball, so it’s not surprising that Milwaukee ultimately lost. What was surprising was the level of confusion and indecisiveness from the Bucks; for nearly 24 minutes straight we were treated to guys who didn’t have a set plan of attack on any given possession and, when they did initiate, had minimal chemistry with teammates who could help bail them out of trouble. Add on top a glaring inability to grab rebounds and you’ve got a blown 19 point lead.
Over in Washington DC the Wizards have been something of an early surprise to the season. Fresh off of ejecting Russell Westbrook to the Lakers in exchange for Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Montrezl Harrell, the Wiz hold top-10 rankings in both offensive and defensive rating under rookie head coach Wes Unseld Jr. They get to the line a ton (2nd highest FTr in the league at .261), don’t turn it over all that easily, and aren’t super reliant on three-pointers dropping given Bradley Beal’s predilection for attacking the basket. Friday night saw them dust the Memphis Grizzlies, 115-87, with all five Wizards starters scoring at least 12 points. Without Westbrook’s complete lack of an outside shot deflating the team’s gravity, they’re able to put forth a potent balanced attack while allowing Harrell to hold court in the paint on the defensive end. No easy out, this squad.
Milwaukee injuries: Grayson Allen QUESTIONABLE (illness), Donte DiVincenzo OUT (ankle), Brook Lopez OUT (back), Khris Middleton OUT (Covid)
Washington injuries: Davis Bertans OUT (ankle), Cassius Winston OUT (hamstring), Rui Hachimura OUT (unknown), Thomas Bryant OUT (knee)
Player to Watch
As Jrue Holiday continues to work himself back into game form off a pair of foot injuries, I’m curious about how quickly he’ll be back up to speed. His outing against the Knicks was mixed at best with a ton of turnovers, but also a few extremely savvy moves to give himself space for a clean look at the basket. Between Bradley Beal and Spencer Dinwiddie, Holiday will be put to the test whether he’s still coming off the bench or re-inserted to the starting lineup.
For Washington, I’ll nominate Montrezl Harrell if for no other reason than Milwaukee’s noted struggles when a big man commits themselves to outworking his undersized opponents. I wouldn’t expect him to have a flashy scoring night, but at 6’7” can he seal off a Bucks big man often enough to give his team a second or third try at the basket on any given possession?
Note: I’m just guessing about the starting lineup. God knows who Bud is going to slot in.
Game 10: Against Washington, Milwaukee will...
This poll is closed
Win big (10 or more points)
Win close (9 or fewer points)
Lose close (9 or fewer points)
Lose big (10 or more points)