Opening Statements: Wizards at Bucks, Game 12 | Wizards Blog Truth About

Opening Statements: Wizards at Bucks, Game 12

Updated: November 22, 2014



Teams: Wizards at Bucks
Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
Venue: Bradley Center, Milwaukee, WI
Television: CSN+
Radio: WFED-AM 1500/WTEM-FM 99.1
Spread: Wizards favored by 3.5 points.

It should come as no surprise that the Milwaukee Bucks were blown out, 124-82, by the Raptors in Toronto on Friday night. But knowing what we know about the now 7-6 Bucks (owners of a good win over the Memphis Grizzlies, who have the NBA’s best winning percentage), the outcome was more an indication of Toronto’s prowess than struggles of a listless, rebuilding Bucks team. It was also the third game in four nights for the Bucks, having beaten the Knicks at home on Tuesday and having survived an exhausting triple-overtime win in Brooklyn on Wednesday — 15 extra minutes of free basketball that could have been avoided by a mere Brandon Knight layup. Now Milwaukee gets set to play its fourth game in five nights, on a back-to-back just like the Wizards, but the Wizards have played just three games in the past nine nights.

No matter what type of team, the best cure for a 42-point blowout is a game the very next night, even in a stretch of condense games. Players, humans, want their chance to make amends ASAP. Plus, only three Bucks — Knight, Jabari Parker, and Nate Wolters, saw 25 or more minutes of action last night. The Wizards saw six of their horses log 25 or more minutes against Cleveland.

Washington played Milwaukee in D.C. in the third game the season (home opener for the Wiz) and won 108-97. Both teams have measurably grown up since. But dominance in that first meeting game was established in a similar way as it was against Cleveland on Saturday night: inside. Nene and Marcin Gortat combined for 42 points on 26 shots and 15 rebounds. Parker is no match for Nene (and at the time was not ready to take advantage with his offense), and Larry Sanders, even if he is returning to his rim-protecting ways, cannot handle Gortat close to the rim — the Pole brought the hammer down a couple times on Sanders on the previous occasion, and you just know he will be looking to bounce back after a quiet outing versus Cleveland where Kevin Seraphin stole the show. Lest we not forget that John Wall was pretty masterful that night (19 points, 10 assists, 5 steals, 6 rebounds, 4 turnovers), and Otto Porter scored his career-high, 21 points. Washington is simply too deep, even if they won the first and third quarters by a total of 63-41, an indication of a second unit trying to find itself at that time. Such still remains the case. Andre Miller continues to be hit-or-miss, Seraphin’s breakout doesn’t mean he’s reliable, and the bench has looked especially nice the last two came because Bradley Beal was coming off it. That should not last too much longer.

The narrative of Washington’s first win over the Bucks, and let’s remember that Milwaukee gave the Wizards plenty of troubles last season, became Paul Pierce’s pre-season insistence that his new team better protect home court. Pierce proceeded to get tossed from the game in the second quarter with poor form that turned into the bonus of Porter’s career performance, for which Pierce was jokingly given the game ball.

“All year, it’s a long year, every time you have big emotional wins, and you come into the next game, those are the games that are trap games, and that is what I tried to tell the guys,” said Pierce about tonight’s game against the Bucks after last night’s win over the Cavs, as observed by TAI’s Conor Dirks. The veteran gets it, or at least he knows the right talking points. Seems like his other teammates are ready to listen.

The latest you need to know about the Bucks vs Wizards:

#1) Milwaukee has used seven different starting lineups in 13 games. Most recently Jerryd Bayless started for the first time this season alongside the usuals in Toronto — Knight, Khris Middleton, Parker, and Sanders. Over their previous three games, all wins, Giannis Antekokounmpo started at the 2 spot next to Knight. Antekokounmpo was a game-time decision with a tender ankle in Toronto, and thus Bayless started, but Giannis did play 15 minutes.

#2) The Bucks’ two most-used five man units on the season (49 minutes each) convey a real disparity in plus-minus per 48 minutes with just one player difference. Knight, Jared Dudley, Middleton, Parker, and Sanders are minus-2.0 per 48. Replace Middleton with stretch-4 Ersan Ilyasova and there’s an 8.9-point swing (they are plus-6.9 per 48). The aforementioned lineup where Giannis is at the 2 with Knight, Middleton, Parker, and Sanders is minus-5.2 per 48 over 28 minutes (but plus 17.5 points per 48 over its last 22 minutes — small sample size theater it is).

#3) Similarly defensive and less so offensive, like Washington, the Bucks have the eighth-best defensive rating (99.9 points allowed per 100 possessions) and the fourth-worst offensive rating (97.6 points scored per 100 possessions — only Detroit, Oklahoma City, and Philadelphia are worse). Washington has the fifth-best DefRtg (98.6) and 11th-worst OffRtg (102.2).

#4) Of Bucks who have played 200 or more minutes, their offense is best when Jerryd Bayless is on the court (107.2 OffRtg compared to the 97.6 team average). Mayo (102.0), Henson (101.8), and Anteokounmpo (101.6) would be next in line in terms of offensive improvement when on the floor. The worst influence on the offense: Sanders (89.7), Knight (93.0), and Parker (93.2).

#5) In the same 200-plus minute criteria for defense, Sanders (96.2 DefRtg), and Middleton (97.1) help most under the team DefRtg of 99.9. IIyasova (103.3), Antetokounmpo (101.0), and Bayless (100.8) have the worst influence on Milwaukee’s defense when on the court.

#6) Milwaukee’s Top 5 in PER: John Henson (18.6), Brandon Knight (18.1), Giannis Antetokounmpo (17.0), Ersan Ilyasova (14.9), O.J. Mayo (14.71).

#7) Washington’s Top 5 in PER: John Wall (21.5), Rasual Butler (19.9), Bradley Beal (19.9), Marcin Gortat (17.6), and Paul Pierce (15.7)


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Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle lives in D.C. with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.