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Milwaukee Bucks vs. Washington Wizards Preview: Home for the Holidays

Bucks look to get back on track after an uneven road trip

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Milwaukee Bucks v Washington Wizards Photo by KeShawn Ennis/NBAE via Getty Images

The Milwaukee Bucks return to the court fresh off some Thanksgiving R&R to host the Washington Wizards in another In-Season Tournament game. After a loss to the Boston Celtics, some home cooking against one of the worst teams in the league may be exactly what the doctor ordered.

Where We’re At

Ultimately, Wednesday’s matchup with the Boston Celtics turned out to be something of a letdown. The Bucks started poorly and never capably closed the distance until, unexpectedly, the very end of the game — only to then run out of juice. None of Milwaukee’s big three were overly impressive (excepting Damian Lillard late) and nobody besides Brook Lopez offered much elsewhere. A classic case of woulda, coulda, shoulda, but didn’t. Still, the Bucks sit in a four-way tie for the East’s second seed, and the team’s 117.2 DRTG against Boston has them knocking on the door of only-slightly-below-average at 21st in the league so far this season. Even a marginally positive trend in the right direction is worth noting.

For the Wizards, they’ve played (and lost) once more this week to the Charlotte Hornets, 114-117. Their offense sucks, their defense is even worse, everyone hates Jordan Poole except Jordan Poole, and the Capital One Arena is routinely full of more fans from the visiting team than Wiz faithful. Daniel Gafford just gobbled up 16 rebounds against the Hornets and is having his best season as a pro yet, but besides him there isn’t much to be hopeful about except whatever Bilal Coulibaly may turn into. Two Wisconsin greats are busy keeping Washington’s bench warm in the form of Johnny Davis and Sussex, WI’s own Patrick Baldwin Jr., so at least we may see them get run if things get out of hand. Shoutout to coach Wes Unseld for driving one hell of a tank job.

Injury Report

Giannis Antetokounmpo (non-Covid illness) is listed as probable, and Jae Crowder remains out after his adductor surgery.

Update: Giannis moved from probable this morning to questionable this afternoon. We’ll likely get notified if he’s out a bit before tip-off.

For Washington, Delon Wright is out with a left knee sprain and Ryan Rollins is out with a right knee sprain.

Player to Watch

We’ll nominate Bilal Coulibaly here if only because he is one of few players who will likely be a part of the Wizards in two years time. He’s got an interesting profile as a guy who can play productive defensive minutes in the immediate, the three ball has been falling for him at ~44% (on somewhat limited attempts), and he’s making 75% of his shots within three feet of the hoop. His +4 performance against us earlier this week was his best outing in his last five games. If you’ve nothing to look forward to now, you might as well key in on a guy for the future.

For the Bucks, we’ll go with Brook Lopez. Much like against the Celtics (or most opponents), opposing defenses will always struggle to answer both Lopez and Antetokounmpo inside if Milwaukee can execute properly. Wednesday’s 28 point outing against Boston was Brook’s best scoring night of the season, and he should be able to take advantage of mismatches if the likes of Gafford are dedicated to halting Antetokounmpo.

How to Watch

Bally Sports WI at 7:00 PM CST


Game 16: Against the Wizards, the Bucks will...

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