Opening Statements: Wizards at Bucks, Game 2 | Wizards Blog Truth About

Opening Statements: Wizards at Bucks, Game 2

Updated: October 30, 2015


The last time my byline was on this here Wizards Basketball site, I was spiking pop-snaps (1) in celebration of the Wizards best-in-the-preseason-NBA Offensive Rating. Today, I write to remind you that Washington is undefeated in this 2015-16 season. Your favorite team is batting 1.000. They’re 1-0, something that hasn’t happened since 2009.



Getting there wasn’t easy, though. No, the Orlando Magic, a team Las Vegas predicts to have a win total in the low-30s, played the Wizards tough. The game came down to a Nikola Vucevic jump shot, which most Magic fans would take 82 games in a year, given the Montenegrin knocks that look down with regularity (46.3% last season). But Marcin Gortat made a strong contest, and Vucevic’s jumper fell off the side of the rim.

Pushing the pace to create space worked at the start for the Wiz Kids, who jumped out to an early lead with John Wall pulling strings like Mastro Geppetto, producing 14 of the team’s first 16 points of the season. But the Magic locked it down after the first quarter and it took late-game heroics from the best point guard in the East to bail out Randy Wittman’s small ball bunch.

A win is a win, even if it is a one-point dubya on 39.3 percent shooting from the field and 60 percent from the charity stripe. It will get “more ideal” for the Wizards, as TAI’s Kyle Weidie tweeted mid-game, but signs of FuturePresentBasketball strength are there. John Wall & Co. shot more 3-pointers than their opponent (28-26), which rarely happened last season. They shot more free throws than their opponent (25-12), which rarely happened last season. And they scored more points on fewer attempts than their opponent (88 : 84 :: 87 : 100), which, yes, rarely happened last season.

The shots should fall. And they’ll be there, open, in the corner, all season. Because Johnathan Hildred “Optimus Dime” Wall, Jr. is a problem for opponents, boss.

Game 2? That’s tonight in M’waukee, Wisconsin. Nick Whalen (@wha1en), who covers the guys in green for ESPN TrueHoop’s Bucksketball, is here to get you ready for tip off, previewing key match-ups and storylines. Leggo!

Teams: Wizards at Bucks
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Venue: BMO Harris Bradley Center – Milwaukee, WI
Television: CSN+
Radio: WNEW-FM 99.1
Spread: Wizards fav’d by 1.5 points.

Q #1: The Milwaukee Bucks lost to the Knicks by, like, a hundred points on Wednesday night. (OK, it was 97-122.) What happened?

@wha1en: Derrick Williams and Langston Galloway happened. The Bucks started out well and led midway through the first quarter but simply didn’t have an answer for what was thought to be a shaky Knicks bench. Williams, Kyle O’Quinn, Lance Thomas, and Jerian Grant each had at least a plus-20 rating, as the Knicks were able to score seemingly at will in the second and third quarters. Milwaukee had a number of blatant defensive breakdowns, which is certainly a concern, and I’m not necessarily convinced that “Well, they didn’t have Giannis” is a valid excuse. Maybe it will take some time for Greg Monroe to become acclimated to the system, but the Bucks allowed a whopping 50 points in the paint to a team that lacks a true interior scoring threat (apologies to Robin Lopez).

On the offensive end, Monroe was really the only Bucks player who was able to get anything going, finishing with a team-high 22 points to go with 14 rebounds (seven offensive). A low-post scorer who commands touches is not something Milwaukee has had since the days of Andrew Bogut, so perhaps integrating him into the offense will entail a longer adjustment period than anticipated. All in all, it’s only Game 1 and it ultimately means close to nothing, but the Bucks couldn’t have started off much worse, especially with all of the fanfare surrounding their first home opener in three decades.

Q #2: The Bucks won’t have Jabari Parker (knee) back till sometime in November. What did you see from Parker as a rookie, what did he work on over the summer (besides rehab), and what can basketball fans expect in Year 2?

@wha1en: The expectations are high for Parker, which is fair considering he was the No. 2 overall pick last year, but I think this could end up being another developmental season for him more than anything else. That’s not to say he won’t play an integral role for this team—he’s going to start at power forward when healthy—but the Bucks aren’t going to ask him to shoulder more of the offensive burden than he can handle.

Early on, I think his numbers will be close to those we saw in 2014-15 before the injury (2), but the hope is that he’ll be a bit more aggressive in the half-court. He was most effective around the rim last season but was not much of a perimeter threat. While Parker was obviously limited throughout the offseason, expanding his range as a shooter was a priority. Considering Michael Carter-Williams and Giannis Antetokounmpo also struggle from beyond the arc, it’s imperative that Parker establishes himself as a perimeter threat to complement his skills off the dribble.

Q #3: Giannis Antetokounmpo! He’s back in action, after serving his one-game suspension. In what ways do you expect Coach Kidd to deploy him? And is there anyone on Washington who can stay in front of him?

@wha1en: Giannis should step back into the starting lineup, but at this point it’s unclear whether Jason Kidd will go with a smaller or larger lineup. Chris Copeland and Jerryd Bayless were the de facto fourth and fifth starters—replacing Parker and Antetokounmpo—on Wednesday, and Milwaukee is yet to officially announce its starting five for Friday night. If Kidd sticks with Copeland to add shooting, Giannis would slot in at small forward, but if Bayless remains in the lineup, Giannis would shift up to the power forward spot. Either way, Giannis is a difficult matchup for Washington on both ends. Presumably, Otto Porter will get the assignment for most of the night, as he’s the closest thing the Wizards have to matching Giannis’ combination of length and athleticism.

Entering Year 3, the Bucks are expecting Giannis to take the next step, and that starts by becoming a more diverse offensive player. The biggest point of emphasis this offseason was improving as a 3-point shooter. Whether that happened or not remains to be seen, but Giannis shot just 16 percent from 3 on fewer than one attempt per game last season, so things really can’t get much worse. By the end of last season, opposing defenses weren’t even bothering to close out on him around the 3-point line, which limited his ability to get into the lane. Giannis doesn’t have to become a great, or even good, 3-point shooter, he just needs to be enough of a threat that defenders can’t afford to sag five feet off when he catches the ball on the perimeter.

BONUS! Mitch Vomhof, another Bucksketballer, tweeted “Start Vasquez.” Please discuss that tweet and use the phrase “Michael Carter-Williams.”

@wha1en: Look, I’m not going to defend Michael Carter-Williams here, because he was objectively bad Wednesday night. That said, we’re one game into the season. I know Carter-Williams was far from spectacular after the trade last season as well, but I’m willing to at least give him a few months to prove he’s the Bucks’ point guard of the future. If he continues to turn the ball over and assault the side of the backboard with errant jumpers at an alarming rate, then it will be time to reevaluate.

Right now, there’s a case to be made that Greivis Vasquez is the better (and certainly safer) option, but I think Milwaukee likes what he brings off the bench. The Bucks’ bench was spectacular for much of last season, but it lacked shooting at the point guard spot, and that’s exactly what Vasquez brings. It’s also why I think he eventually unseats Bayless as the first guard off the bench once the Bucks are fully healthy.

  1. Those little, white, spermatozoid-looking fireworks safe enough that parents hand boxes of them to children.
  2. 12.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game.
John Converse Townsend on EmailJohn Converse Townsend on FacebookJohn Converse Townsend on InstagramJohn Converse Townsend on Twitter
John Converse Townsend
Reporter / Writer / Co-Editor at TAI
John has been part of the editorial team at TAI since 2010. He likes: pocket passes, chase-down blocks, 3-pointers. He dislikes: typos, turnovers, midrange jump shots.