Bucks vs. Wizards Preview: Is Wrong Team Favored in D.C.?

Jacob McKenna breaks down Sunday's NBA game between the Milwaukee Bucks and Washington Wizards.

Bucks vs. Wizards Odds

Bucks Odds -3
Wizards Odds +3
Over/Under 221.5
Time 6 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass
Odds via <!–BetMGM–>BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Milwaukee Bucks kick off a five-game road trip on Sunday evening when they travel to the nation’s capital to square off against the Washington Wizards.

Milwaukee has been dealing with some injuries to begin the year, a big reason why they find themselves sitting in 10th in the Eastern Conference with a record of 4-5.

Washington has some injuries of their own as well, but it comes into this matchup with a 6-3 record and has come out of the gates hot to begin the season.

Will we see Milwaukee find their footing, or will the Wizards continue their stellar start and keep things close against the defending champs?

Can Milwaukee Buck Poor Offensive Trend?

The beginning of the 2021-2022 season has not been ideal for this Bucks team.

Khris Middleton is still in the NBA’s health and safety protocols and will miss this matchup, Donte DiVincenzo and Brook Lopez will not play, and Grayson Allen is a Game Time Decision with an illness, all of which has played a role in Milwaukee’s slow start. Luckily, Jrue Holiday is back in the fold after missing a few games, but he could potentially be on a minutes restriction.

Furthermore, the offense as a whole has struggled to start the season. The Bucks find themselves in the bottom half of the league in Offensive Rating, scoring 106.5 points per 100 possessions. Shooting the ball has been a challenge so far, as they are shooting 44.1% from the floor and 34% from behind the arc, both of which are in the bottom half of the league.

This team has also scored less than 100 points in three of its last four games, which is not the Bucks offense that we have been accustomed to.

From a defensive stand point, Milwaukee has been relatively average as well. The Bucks rank 19th in Defensive Rating , allowing 107.5 points per 100 possessions, and they are allowing 46.7 points per game in the paint (16th most). However, Milwaukee is holding their opponents to 44.4% shooting overall and 31% from behind the arc.

For the most part, the defense has been there, but the offense has lagged behind.

Washington Off to Wizardly Start

The Wizards have gotten off to a surprising start and snapped out of a two-game losing streak after defeating the Grizzlies 115-87 on Friday.

Davis Bertans and Thomas Bryant are expected to miss this game for injury-related reasons, and Rui Hachimura is out after dealing with a personal matter. However, some offseason acquisitions have helped Washington remain competitive early on despite being without some key players.

Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Montrezl Harrell were acquired in a trade with the Lakers this past offseason, and the impact they have made has not gone unnoticed. Kuzma comes into this one nearly averaging a double-double with 14.0 points and 9.4 rebounds, while Harrell comes into this one averaging 18.0 points, 9.7 rebounds, and is shooting 63% from the floor. KCP also adds another dimension to this offense from behind the arc, where he is shooting 40% so far this season.

Spencer Dinwiddie appears to be a great fit next to Bradley Beal, another reason why this offense finds themselves ranked in the top 12 in Offensive Rating (107.7 points per 100 possessions) and field goal percentage (45.8%).

Washington is also a much improved defensive unit in the early going. Last season, the Wizards had a Defensive Rating of 112.3 which had them in the bottom 11 in the NBA. However, their Defensive Rating through nine games is 104, which puts them inside the top 10.

Furthermore, this is a team that is holding its opponents to 43.6% shooting from the floor and 29.4% from behind the arc. Washington is one of the most improved units and should remain competitive with the defending champs.

Bucks-Wizards Pick

Washington has surrounded Bradley Beal with some great pieces, and that should allow it to keep this game close against a Bucks team that looks flat.

Milwaukee being without some key players has resulted in it losing four of its last five games and has proven that it can be picked apart.

The Wizards are 4-1 straight up at home this season and are 6-3 overall against the spread. In addition, they are 3-2 ATS after a win, and are 2-0 ATS as a home underdog.

My model has the Wizards winning this one outright, but I will just stick with the points.

Pick: Washington +3 (-110)

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