Milwaukee Bucks (Scott Skiles) 9-7
(Likely) Inactives: Joe Alexander, Michael Redd
Washington Wizards (Flip Saunders) 6-10
(Likely) Inactives: Jarvis Crittenton, Mike James and Mike Miller
Game time: 6:00 (CST)
TV: FS Wisconsin
Brandon Jennings vs. Gilbert Arenas
So is it all done then? The whole Gilbert Arenas is a fun, up-and-coming star who shoots when he wants, makes up crazy names for himself and makes the Wizards a relevant team, is it done? It sure looks like it. When I mosey on over to basketball-reference.com to check out a few things about other teams I usually have an idea of what I’m going to see. But I didn’t have a clue on what I’d see about Gil when I checked him out. Why didn’t I have a clue? Because I haven’t heard anything at all about Gil or the Wiz all year. They’ve been irrelevant, aside from an injury here or an injury there. I vaguely remember hearing that Arenas supposedly wants to be fun again. I thought I heard something about him needing one million followers on Twitter before his first tweet. But no longer are his on-court exploits worth much. That’s what knee surgery after knee surgery will do to you. He’s 28, a touch younger than the Bucks own former star robbed of mobility by injuries Michael Redd. To think either of them will be relevant as stars in the league again seems like a stretch.
Charlie Bell vs. Nick Young
I know Nick Young is athletic and I know he has good size, but I can’t recall ever seeing player put up the numbers Young puts up. How is he in the NBA? His career numbers are nine points, one assist and just a shade under two rebounds per game. When people say, he’s just a scorer, they usually are embellishing a little. Usually the player will dish a few assists or grab a rebound here and there. Young REALLY is just a scorer. That’s all. He’s like the anti-Charlie Bell. Bell isn’t very athletic or big, but this season he’s dropping in a couple of assists and a few rebounds each game in addition to diving around for loose balls and being pesky.
Carlos Delfino vs. Caron Butler
“Tough Juice” remains the coolest nickname in the NBA, even if Caron Butler’s game has taken a step (or two … or three) back this year. Something seems to be off about more and more Wizards as you look down the line. Could it be the influx of a few better players who’ve diluted the numbers a bit, but made the team better off for it? Nah, they are 6-10. Could it be the return of Arenas shifting Butler from the comfort zone he’d assumed in the time Arenas was out? Seems probable. I’m sure it’s a number of things, but for whatever reason, Butler’s shooting is down to 41 percent his year. This is not the guy who’s made two of the last three all-star games.
Ersan Ilyasova vs. Antawn Jamison
Wizards without Jamison: 2-7. Wizards with Jamison 4-3. While he may not be the most influential player in the league by any stretch of the imagination, it’s clear that the Wizards should be glad to have Jamison back. The team is heavily built around their three stars and having any one of them out makes it difficult for them to maintain any momentum. Jamison has had three games over 30 points since returning and is up over 50 percent from the field. That’s impressive since he’s shooting five three’s a game at just 31 percent. He’s been a load to deal with inside of that arc. Bizarrely, Jamison has hit on just 58 percent of his free throws — he’s usually in the mid 70 percent range. If he get’s to the line a lot against Milwaukee, which he likely will, and isn’t connecting once again it could swing Wednesday’s game in the Bucks favor. The battle on the boards between Ilyasova and Jamison will be one to watch.
Andrew Bogut vs. Brendon Haywood
Haywood reminds me of Sam Dalembert … but good. He’s long, he’s athletic and he can block shots. He’s a terrific rebounder to boot. Why do I reference my recollection of Dalmbert when thinking of Haywood? The Dalembeast gave Andrew Bogut all kinds of problems opening night. Athletic, long and strong players typically are more challenging to deal with for a center like Bogut. Haywood has the strength to hold up to him in the post and the length to challenge his shots. On Monday against Joakim Noah, Bogut was able to power into him and get the shots he wanted since Noah is largely without much girth. Haywood has a lot more strength and experience than Noah. It will not be so easy for Bogut Wednesday night.
Kurt Thomas, Luke Ridnour (?), Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (?), Jodie Meeks and Hakim Warrick
Randy Foye, Andray Blatche, Earl Boykins, Deshawn Stevenson and Javale McGee
The Wiz are still attempting to hammer out a bench rotation,while the Bucks aren’t sure whether LRMAM or Luke Ridnour will play. I’d guess yes on LRMAM and no on Ridnour based on some things I’ve seen. Earl Boykins is back from Russia (or wherever he was) and is giving the Wizards some good minutes in relief of Arenas. He’s tossing around assists, keeping the ball moving and shooting at an abnormally high percentage. McGee and Blatche are not dissimilar and are not all that great. I was high on McGee for some time, but I also once called a radio show in 2005 wondering why Dan Gadzuric couldn’t be a starter in the NBA.
Prediction: Bucks 96 – Wizards 93
The Wizards are much more of that 4-3 team they are with Jamison than the 2-7 team they were without him. But that still doesn’t mean they are all that great. They seem to be searching for consistency and energy after every single game. TruthAboutIt.net has a terrific montage of interview clips after their last game, at home mind you, a loss against the Bobcats. The recurring theme? Energy. The Wizards have the talent to assume it’s an 82 game season and wins can be made up. They have guys who’ve won together, made playoff runs and seen success. They assume they can do it again and will do it when push comes to shove. Their waiting, not acting.
The Bucks might have as much talent, but their leaders (Bogut and Bell) have seen a lot of losses over the past five years. They want every single win. Have you heard anyone on the Bucks even mention energy in a loss this year? That’s one thing Bucks fans have not had to think twice about. They’ve wanted every single game. It comes with the territory when a team suddenly appears good after having sucked for years and years. Each game probably means a little more to them than it does the other team. So that’s why I think they’ll come out with this one.