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Wizards at Bucks Pregame: Battered But Not Broken

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Preseason Game 5

Washington (3-1) at Milwaukee (1-2)

October 17, 2015 at 8:30 PM
BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee, WI
No TV or Radio


Last time they met was..

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


UPDATE: John Wall will NOT be suiting up for the Wizards tonight. Per Jorge Castillo:


What to Watch:

A battered Wizards team face a challenge against uprising Bucks.

Besides the fallout in New York, the Wizards’ two other opponents (Philly 2x and the Brazilians) have been nothing more than preseason punching bags. Having scored 125+ points in each game against Philly, along with another 134 against Brazil, you could say the Wizards’ new super-functional style of play is certainly working, but it has yet to be put to the test by a team they may face in the playoffs.

Over we go to Milwaukee. Touted by many as a vastly improved team – potentially good enough to compete for the 4th or 5th seed in the East – the Bucks bring to the Wizards the challenge of matching up against length and strength. The assembly of The Greek Freak, Khris Middleton and MCW give the Bucks a combined wingspan long enough to stretch around Lambeau Field. The addition of Greg Monroe down low gives them a gritty interior. However, the Bucks haven’t had much success through three preseason games – a blowout loss to Detroit, a decisive loss to Chicago, and a win over the Lebron-less, Kyrie-Less, heavy-Jared Cunningham Cleveland Cavaliers. The Bucks will certainly have their recent struggles in mind when they tip off tonight, and if the Wizards aren’t keen, there is a good chance they will end up as the punching bag.

Greg Monroe, a marquee addition to the Bucks roster this past summer, recently played his best meaningless game against the Cavs, scarfing up 19 points and 13 rebounds in 28 minutes of burn. For the preseason, he is shooting 15-29 from the field and averaging eight rebounds a game. His matchup against Gortat will be one to spotlight, more on that when you scroll down.

Though he won’t be playing tonight, for the Wizards so far in the preseason one thing is clear: as long as there is John Wall, it’s ALL. GOOD. Dealt with a plethora of injuries (Martell, Temp, Anderson, Dudley, Nene, and now Otto), the Wizards have seemingly overcome them, which brings to realization their increased depth. But the one glaring reason why the Wizards have maintained their strong play is undoubtedly their point guard, who gives them no other option. Wall played just 21 minutes in Philly last night, but despite the restriction of playing time he remained charitable to no bound, dishing 14 assists to his teammates. This is not to say that injuries will never be a problem so long as it’s not an injury to John Wall, this is merely reiterating the prestige of our point guard and the utmost significance he has to the welfare of this franchise.


Key matchup:

Greg Monroe vs. Marcin Gortat

Oct 13, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Milwaukee Bucks center Greg Monroe (15) drives to the basket in the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Marcin Gortat hasn’t exactly fared well in some of his matchups this preseason. Jahil Okafor’s debut was a blast against him. Last night, Nerlens Noel also had his way down low. The problem for Gortat on defense is when players find their way to sneak behind him for easy baskets under the rim. His habit of stepping up in the paint to protect the rim from someone driving the lane often times lets his man tuck behind him, and because of Gortat’s slowness to recover and turn around, the layup is left uncontested.

Given the preseason and the unexpectedness of different lineups, I’m not sure how often these two will face each other tonight. I am nevertheless going to supply some takes. The challenge against Monroe is having to fend off his strength in the post as well as disturbing him from getting an open midrange look. Monroe is naturally more versatile than Gortat which presents another challenge- Gortat’s footwork. Offensively, Gortat continues to reap the treasures of basketball heaven thanks to the padded pick and roll game between he and John Wall. Gortat’s footwork hasn’t seemed to be an issue when rolling to the rim and when you consider that, along with the horrifying threat of Wall, you’ll find Gortat’s defender planted in his place, unsure of where to defend. A successful night against Monroe on both ends of the floor is sure to boost Gortat going forward.


X-factor:

Managing fatigue.

The second night of a back-to-back on the road will probably slow down the Wizards a bit and render extensive minutes to the future cuts. If the Wizards’ first and second units handle their business early and to the approval of Randy Wittman, expect them to get rest sooner, paving the way for more Kelly Oubre and..well..yeah, just more Kelly Oubre.


Fun factor:

Watching John Wall and Greg Monroe on the court and remembering this:


Prediction:

The Wizards dominate early to take a sizeable lead. It dwindles around halftime. A little 3rd quarter fatique draws the Bucks closer, and by the 4th quarter the bench dwellers duel it out and the Bucks come out on top.

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