By: Jeremy Hyman
The Wizards are back in action tonight as they return home to host the Milwaukee Bucks at Verizon Center (7:00 pm | TV: CSN | Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM). The Wizards beat the Bucks, 102-90, when they met on February 11th in Milwaukee. Bradley Beal led the team with a then season-high 28 points.
Last night, the Wizards dropped a game to the Cleveland Cavaliers on the road. John Wall had a season-high 27 points and 14 assists in the effort, but the team struggled offensively in the second and third quarters and they let one get away.
The Bucks also let an early lead get away last night, as they fell 115-108 at home to the Dallas Mavericks. Monta Ellis led all scorers with 32 points to go along with his nine assists. However, his partner in crime, Brandon Jennings, was held to just four points on 2-7 shooting.
Ellis and Jennings make up a large portion of the Bucks offense. The duo averages over 37 points and almost 13 assists per game and make up one of the most explosive backcourts in the league. They can both score from anywhere on the court, though Jennings is the better outside shooter while Ellis is more dangerous as a slasher. They have positioned the Bucks as an eight seed in the Eastern Conference and have won six of their past eight games.
While Ellis and Jennings will get a lot of the attention, an x-factor to watch for will be Larry Sanders who has been getting a lot of minutes lately at the center position. He has five double-doubles in his last nine games and is now averaging career-highs in almost every offensive category. He is a freakish athlete and presents matchup problems for many opposing centers in the league. He is not built like a traditional center, but he is an excellent rebounder and will be a key component in tonight's game.
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 six against the Wizards, scoring in double figures in all six. 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 Martell Webster, who has been shooting lights out from downtown.
The Wizards have relied upon their bench for much of the season, but last night they received just 11 points from their second unit on 4-21 shooting. That was the difference in the game and they will need a better effort tonight if they want to get a different end result.
Trevor Ariza (knee) and Bradley Beal (ankle) have not been ruled out, but both could miss tonight's game with injuries which means someone else will have to step up in their place to help carry the load for the Wizards.
The action kicks off at 7pm.
John Wall is coming off his best statistical night of the season, scoring 27 points, dishing out 14 assists, and pulling down seven rebounds. He did so by getting to the line, where he went 13/14. His aggressiveness will need to continue tonight as the Wizards could once again be without Bradley Beal which means Wall will once again be relied upon to carry the load. He went for a double-double (14p/10a) in their last meeting with the Bucks and look for Wall to put up similar numbers tonight.
Brandon Jennings coming off one of his worst offensive games of the season where he was held to just four points on 2-7 shooting. The Wizards did a great job on him defensively last time, holding him to just 3-17 shooting and seven points. 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 reads the play, gets the steal and the slam.
In the clip below, John Wall finishes for the 3-point play.