Nov 9, 2012; Washington, DC, USA; Milwaukee Bucks small forward Mike Dunleavy (17) dribbles past Washington Wizards small forward Trevor Ariza (1) during the second half at the Verizon Center. The Bucks defeated the Wizards 101 - 91. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Wizards At Bucks Preview: Key Match Up, Notes/Links, and Prediction (2/11/13)


The Washington Wizards have now won three consecutive games at home. They’ll try to continue their recent success tonight on the road, against the playoff chasing, Milwaukee Bucks.

Key Match Up

Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis have made up the most productive back court in the NBA this season. Both Jennings and Ellis, who are known for their abilities to score, are averaging over 18 points per game this season. Not to mention, the two are averaging over a combined 11 assists per game. Milwaukee goes as their back court goes. With that said, the Bucks have lost three straight games, as a result of their back court struggling to shoot at an efficient rate. If Washington does a good job in stopping them from getting out in transition and forcing them to take bad shots, they should be able to pick up their fourth road victory of the season. After all, Washington’s defense has been elite since John Wall has returned to the lineup.

Assuming Bradley Beal returns to the Wizards starting lineup for tonight’s game, the Washington Wizards shouldn’t be overwhelmed by Jennings and Ellis. Both John Wall and Bradley Beal have shown of what they’re capable of doing when put on the floor together. Beal has dealt with a right wrist sprain for quite some time, so it’s nice to see him finally return to action. John Wall has lead the Wizards to some of their most impressive victories of the season, including three straight victories over the Los Angeles Clippers, New York Knicks, and most recently, the Brooklyn Nets. All three teams are expected to finish the season atop their conference, so these wins do have some substance behind them. Wall and Beal are capable of overwhelming most of the NBA back court pairing, but they won’t be able to do so tonight. As noted, Jennings and Ellis are probably the most productive back court in the NBA, in terms of statistics and standings. If John Wall and Bradley Beal want to solidify themselves as one of the top back courts in the NBA, tonight would be a good place to start. They’ll certainly have their hands full in Milwaukee.

Other Notes/Links

  • Since John Wall has returned, the Wizards have had the best defense in the entire NBA, allowing 95.1 points per 100 possessions.  I can’t say this is completely because of Wall, but he certainly has had a hand in their great defense. Prior to Wall’s return, the Wizards would constantly get burned by the opposing point guard. With John Wall back, they’re able to relax a bit, allowing them to concentrate on their own personal defensive assignments. With Wall on the floor, they don’t need to worry about guys like Jeff Teague, who got to the lane at will.
  • Larry Sanders sat out of Saturday’s game against the Detroit Pistons due to some back issues. He’s questionable for tonight. Sanders is the league leader in blocks per game, sending away over 3 shots per game.
  • Amin Vafa took a look at the Wizards great defensive surge. I honestly can’t believe that ‘Washington Wizards’ and ‘elite-defense’ are being used in the same sentence.
  • Despite having sporadic difficulties grabbing defense rebounds, the Bucks are still ranked sixth in rebounds per game.  They’re virtually average or just slightly above or below average in every other statistical category.
  • Not much else going on in Wizards land. I’m hoping trade rumors start to build up around Washington, but as expected, the Wizards like to keep their cards close during the trade deadline.

Prediction

The Wizards have been a joy to watch, especially at the Verizon Center. The bad part? Well, they’re not a particularly great team on the road. Sporing only 3 wins and 21 losses on the road (!!!), Washington needs to bring the same tenacity and attention to defense on the road, as they do at home. I’ve noticed that Washington has a tendency to ‘take quarters off’ on the road, and end up getting brutally outplayed in either the second or third quarter. They can’t do that tonight, especially against a team like the Bucks. Milwaukee is a pretty good all around defensive team, as Larry Sanders lurks the paint, and their wings scrap on the perimeter. Ersan Ilyasova and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute are also able to get it done on the defensive end of the floor.

Milwaukee is currently sitting in the eight spot in the Eastern Conference, so they need all the wins they could get to remain in the playoff picture. Washington is a team which other teams that are above .500 need to beat in order to keep their playoff hopes up. Milwaukee will without a doubt bring their A game tonight, and Washington needs to do the same.

You can’t just play great at home and expect to develop as a team. At some point, Washington needs to play with the same productivity on the road.

With all that said, I’ll pick Washington to get their fourth straight victory tonight at the Bradley Center. I’ll be interested to see how well John Wall and Bradley Beal play against an elite level back court.

 

Tags: Brandon Jennings Featured John Wall Milwaukee Bucks Popular Washington Wizards