By: Jacob Raim
The Wizards hit the road as they look to win their fourth in a row, taking on the Bucks in Milwaukee (8:00 pm | TV: CSN | Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM). The Bucks beat the Wizards, 101-91, when they met for the first time on November 9th. Bradley Beal had the first 20 point game of his career that day, scoring 22 on 7/14 shooting.
The Wizards have been playing some of their best basketball of the season, winning all three games on their home stand last week. All three games were against teams at least nine games over .500, the first time the franchise has accomplished at least a three game winning streak against such teams in it's history. On Monday, the Wizards defeated the Clippers behind Martell Webster's 21 points. On Wednesday, the Wizards snapped the Knicks five game winning streak on the strength of John Wall's 21 point, nine assist effort. Finally on Friday, the Wizards held the Nets to just 74 points in a 15 point win.
The Bucks on the other hand, have been struggling. They have lost five of their last six, including a 105-100 loss to the Pistons on Saturday. The Bucks are allowing 102.2 points per game in February and are getting outrebounded by an average of 50-42, something they typically excel at.
The last times these two teams met, it was very early in the season and the Wizards were playing without Wall and Nene. The Bucks pulled away late to claim a 10 point win. The game was a sloppy one as both teams committed over 20 turnovers. The Bucks shot over 50%, led by Monta Ellis' 22 points in the win. Stopping Ellis, who averages over 18 points a game will be a big task for the Wizards. Expect Temple, Beal and Webster to all have the responsibility of Ellis at one time or another. Ellis has not been at his best of late, but has the ability to carry the Bucks on his back at any time.
Stopping Ersan Ilyasova will be another key for the Wizards. Going back to last season, Ilyasova has had a double-double in four of the last five against the Wizards, scoring in double figures in all five. Ilyasova is tenacious on the boards and plays physically on the defensive end. Keeping Ilyasova from crashing the offensive boards and getting easy buckets down low be crucial. He's a much better post defender than a perimeter defender though and could at times be tasked with guarding Webster or Ariza, who have been shooting lights out from downtown.
The Wizards defense has been outstanding of late. They have held their last eight opponents under 100 points. The Bucks offense is 12th in the league in scoring at 97.7 points a game but are 26th in the league in FG% at 43%. They get themselves a lot of second chance opportunities by being dominant on the offensive glass, third in the league at 13 a game. If the Wizards can keep the Bucks off the offensive boards, they will have a really good chance to shut down Milwaukee.
The action kicks off at 8pm from the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee.
Over the Wizards three game winning streak on their home stand, Wall averaged 16.3 points and 8.7 assists per game. Wall has been playing very aggressively by attacking the basket, getting himself good opportunities at the rim and also creating space and open looks for his teammates. The Wizards shot 51% from three point range on their home stand and a lot of that can be attributed to the open looks Wall was creating for his teammates.
Brandon Jennings is scoring 17.8 points per game in February but doing it on only 34% shooting. Jennings is a very quick point guard but lacks size and strength, which Wall certainly has for a PG. When Jennings gets frustrated, he has a tendency to start forcing shots which Wall will have the potential to due with his size and quickness. Both of these point guards love to push the ball so their should be no shortage of up tempo play in this one.
In this clip, John Wall leads the fast break and finds Trevor Ariza for the slam after a dazzling behind-the-back move.
In the clip below, John Wall gets the steal and the fast break dunk.