The Milwaukee Bucks opened up the season’s second half with a thorough shellacking of the New York Knicks, 134-101. Now, they have another chance to rack up wins against the country’s Northeast corridor with a chess match against the Washington Wizards.
Where We’re At
Milwaukee looked like the All-Star Break suited them, coming out after a weeks’ worth of rest to tear down the New York Knicks systematically, primarily behind the triple-double stylings of Giannis Antetokonmpo. His 24 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists led the team in all three categories. Bryn Forbes was scorching once more, after a cold spell pre-ASB, nailing 7/7 from deep. Bud also finally had his preferred starting five back together, with Jrue Holiday taking over for D.J. Augustin and playing his most minutes since the injury, 25. This is Milwaukee’s first matchup with the Wizards of the season, and their first of two straight games against the team of our nation’s capital.
The Wiz are weird. They went on a run leading up the All-Star Break, “run” being a relative term given their horrible start to the season. Still, over the last month or so, they’ve toppled the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers and the Denver Nuggets twice. Their season also featured at least a week of no games due to COVID-19, including their first scheduled matchup with Milwaukee being delayed from January 20th. Bradley Beal stirs the drink, averaging 32 points per game, but his 3-point shot is sitting at a career-low 32.9%. He’s making up for it by shooting 53.9% from inside the arc and getting to the line 8.3 times per game (hitting them at a 90% clip). Meanwhile, Russell Westbrook has basically been a lesser version of Russell Westbrook. He’s shooting sub-30% from deep, but is nearly notching a triple double even while turning it over 4.7 times per game. The Bucks will gladly let him take his early possession pull-ups from midrange. The Wiz play at the fastest pace in the league, with one of the worst defenses. Milwaukee should have no trouble keeping up and will probably try to hoard easy points in transition and on the fastbreak.
The Wiz are fresh off a thumping at the hands of the Sixers, 127-101. Westbrook had 25 and Beal had 19, but this game was over even with Joel Embiid leaving it early with a knee injury.
The Wizards were without Ish Smith and Thomas Bryant for the Sixers game, and Bradley Beal was going in questionable so we’ll see whether he plays in this back-to-back. Davis Bertans left the game with calf tightness and is day-to-day. The Bucks have a clean bill of health.
Player to Watch
Robin Lopez left Milwaukee this offseason for more money in Washington, and has found himself more playing time to boot. He’s reverted back to primarily working inside the arc after last season’s dalliance with the 3-pointer in Bud’s offense. It’s always enjoyable watching the Lopii spar down low, so it’s worth keeping an eye on them as Robin tries his carnival hook shot antics in the paint.
Game 38: Against the Wizards, the Bucks will…
This poll is closed
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)