HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! Hope you all had a happy and safe New Years Eve and now your reward for your hard partying will be some Bucks basketball. Kicking off 2023 we’ve got the Milwaukee Bucks hosting the Washington Wizards in the first half of a mini two-game series.
Where We’re At
Losers no more, the Bucks closed 2022 on a positive note knocking off the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Bobby Portis paced the team for the second game in a row as Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday remained sidelined, with Giannis notching 43 points, 20 rebounds, and 5 assists in the win. It wasn’t all smooth sailing, of course, as the Bucks went into the half down 11 points having made a sterling 3-22 attempts from three as a team in 24 minutes. The shooting would eventually pick up in the second half, alongside Joe Ingles’s best performance as a Buck, operating in pick and roll sets with Giannis on his way to a 14 point, 10 assist night. For the first time in over a week, Milwaukee looked like a competent professional basketball team in consecutive quarters; it ain’t much, but it is something.
Washington visits Milwaukee largely unchanged as a franchise from where they’ve been for more than a decade: A virtual lock to sneak in to the back half of the playoff field before probably crashing out 4-2 in the first round. They sustained a 10 game losing streak just a few weeks ago, although now they’ve a four game winning streak with victories over Sacramento, Philadelphia, and Phoenix. Statistically, Washington is similar to the Timberwolves: below average on offense (112.6 ORTG, 19th) and dead-on average on defense (113.6, 15th). Bradley Beal remains the lead man, with marginally improved numbers off last season (23.5 points on .527/.343/.858 and 5.2 assists) while having not recovered his prime form of two years ago — he’s also been hobbled by a hamstring injury, missing a chunk of games in December and Washington’s last two outings. Future Buck Kyle Kuzma is having a career scoring year with a jump in raw usage, and Kristaps Porzingis remains 7’3” tall and able to hit threes at an OK rate. Recent success has come through a marked jump in offensive output with the Wiz notching a 119.5 ORTG over the last six games, fifth-best in the league in that stretch. That includes a hilarious 139.1 rating in the win over the Suns. They weren’t as flashy in their latest win over the Orlando Magic, but Orlando was so abject that even an average night for Washington was plenty to get by on.
Khris Middleton is out with right knee soreness, Jrue Holiday is out with non-Covid illness, and George Hill is questionable, also with non-Covid illness.
UPDATE: Giannis is now listed as questionable for tonight with left knee soreness.
For Washington, Bradley Beal is questionable with left hamstring soreness and Taj Gibson (still in the league!) is questionable with a groin issue.
Player to Watch
I’d love to see Joe Ingles continue building momentum off a solid night against Minnesota. With Milwaukee’s guard corps once again reduced to Jevon Carter, it is another great opportunity for Point Ingles. Washington will be throwing a lot of size Giannis’s way between Daniel Gafford, Porzingis, and Kuzma, which should offer Ingles an interesting challenge if Milwaukee runs more P&R actions between those two.
Game 36: 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)