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PREGAME: Wizards at Bucks

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Regular Season Game 2

Washington (1-0) at Milwaukee (0-1)

October 30, 2015 at 8:00 PM
BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee, WI
TV: CSN Washington
Radio: 99.1FM


Last time they met was..

March 8, 2015 – BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee – Bucks 91, Wizards 85
Game Notebook 63


What to watch

Irfan: Jared Dudley Revenge Game??? Ok, probably not. In that case, pay attention to the Bucks defense, and how the Wizards respond and execute against that defense. Jason Kidd quietly constructed Milwaukee into one of the top defensive teams in the NBA last season. Being able to space the floor against this team is a MUST (ask the Bulls!). Last year, the Bulls struggles with their playoff match-up against Milwaukee coincided with their struggles to hit outside shots and playing multiple big men inside. The Wizards have shown their desire to go small and spread the floor, but their success is going to be predicated on knocking down the shots opponents give them early in the season. If the guys tasked with creating space for the Wizards (Otto, Humphries, Beal, Neal) don’t actually knock down shots, playing small and fast will become a much greater challenge. Milwaukee will be a good early test.

Abdullah: An angry Greek Freak. Giannis Antetokounmpo missed the season opener against the Knicks serving a one-game suspension for trucking Mike Dunleavy during Game 6 of the playoffs last May His absence not only bothered Milwaukee, who go ransacked 122-97 at home, but it also made Giannis figuratively “sick” not being there. I’m pretty sure a large part of why Giannis felt so miserable was having to see Derrick Williams aka the two-eyed Fetty Wap, of all people, pour in 24 points off the bench along with Kristaps Porzingis free-throw heavy 16 points. The Wizards need to be wary of Giannis’ athletic presence and super-extended length with virtually every dribble they take tonight. This free-flowing, pass-heavy style of play the Wizards are trying to polish could endure a ton of disruption with The Freak scheming the floor. The Wizards committed 18 turnovers on Wednesday against Orlando and we could see a large number of them tonight if they aren’t keen enough.

Key matchup

Irfan: Wizards spacing vs. Bucks length.

I can’t emphasize this enough: The Bucks are LONG. Michael-Carter Williams is a 6’7″ point guard with a longer wingspan. Giannis Antetokounmpo nicknamed “The Greek Freak” because he’s long as shi! Watch:

The Bucks have excessive length at every position, allowing them to create havoc in passing lanes, switch all types of match-ups, and then run in transition after forcing turnovers. Like we said, the Wizards shooting will be vital to their success spreading the floor, and the Bucks are a team that you REALLY need to spread out, or their length suffocate you.

Abdullah: The Wizards’ 2nd unit vs. our sanity.

On paper, the Wizards don’t have one of the world’s most shallowest bench units. In fact, they’re supposed to be pretty good. But against Orlando, the four backups that played combined to make just 4 of 22 shots and each, with the exception of Gary Neal, finished with a deplorable plus/minus (Gooden -14; Nene -13; Sessions -19). Neal was the ‘best’ of the bunch shooting 3-for-8 from the field for six points and a plus/minus of -5.

The big question regarding the bench is when will Jared Dudley will crack the lineup? Both Dudley and Kelly Oubre were DNP-CD’s against the Magic as Wittman shuffled a few 3-guard lineups and even threw Otto in at the 4 for a few minutes. The Wizards are obviously in a ‘play and learn’ basis with new faces and a new strategy, and part of that learning process is Wittman adjusting his bench rotation after their dismal showing in the season opener.

X-Factor

Irfan: Khris Middleton. Last season, Khris Middleton averaged 11 points per game before the All-Star Break. After? 17 points per game. The Bucks have an unorthodox mix of players, and many different options to handle the ball and make a play, but Khris is the go-to-guy at the end of the clock (be it shot-clock, quarter-clock, or game-clock). He hit multiple game winners last season, and earned himself a ton of money in the process. Early in the season, he’ll be trying to prove he’s worth it, to his organization, his teammates, and himself.

Abdullah: John Wall’s defense (mean mug included). Remember this? The amazing sequence of John Wall blocking Jerryd Bayliss’ shot attempt, gathering the basketball and then shooting one of the most demeaning mean mugs while looking him up and down:

Wall’s playmaking on defense tonight will be critical in a game comprised of so much pace and length. I hate to say it but the Wizards are probably due for a frustrating night of turnovers and having to backpedal in transition defense. But this is also where John Wall can be most frightening. He is the defensing catalyst for the Wizards and while there’s no question he’ll be up to the task for it tonight, the question is how much will his teammates will be?

Fun factor

Irfan: Milwaukee’s new look. The Bucks revamped their look, with a new logo, new colors, and a new court design. My personal opinion? They did a great job! Here’s the new logo:

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First of all, definitely an angrier, more intimidating look. More importantly, they integrate some subtle features beautifully: The “M” that also forms the neck/collar of the Buck; The first set of horns to create an almost fully formed basketball. You know the phrase, “look good, play good.” The Bucks hope it translates.

Abdullah: Stay clear of any open-top drinks near Jason Kidd.

article-kidd-1129

Predictions

Irfan: The “look good, play good” phrase won’t translate. The Wizards are just a better team. Wall will dominate. Beal will rain. The Wizards will create the space they want, and then proceed to surgically and precisely slaughter the Bucks like a finely sharpened knife to the jugular (as opposed to the standard deer getting caught in the headlights reference).

Abdullah: Giannis will end up sicker than he was before. John Wall will mean mug someone. Jared Dudley cracks the rotation. Jason Kidd will drink out of a sippee cup. As Wall will inevitably continue to beautifully set up open shots for his shooters, more of those shots should begin to fall. That goes for the free throws as well. Bucks keep it close, but not enough to evade another late John Wall push.

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