Washington Wizards (Flip Saunders) 9-17
(Probable) Inactives: Jaravis Crittenton, Mike James and Mike Miller
Milwaukee Bucks (Scott Skiles) 12-14
(Probable) Inactives: Joe Alexander, Dan Gadzuric and Roko Ukic
Time: 7:00 (CST)
TV: FS Wisconsin
Brandon Jennings vs. Gilbert Arenas
Lost in the free throw madness Monday was Brandon Jennings’ lone miss. It was his first miss in 29 attempts, unheard of for this Milwaukee Bucks team. When it comes to free throw shooting for this team, Jennings is like a rose growing out of cracked cement. Arenas may finally be coming back on, he’s scored over 30 points in three of his past four games, including 45 against Golden State. But we know about Golden State’s defense. Being in company with Gil is not as illustrious as it used to be, but it’s still pretty cool for Jennings. Of course, Jennings has upped his assists and tried involving teammates more since his fast start, but I’d expect both of these guards to get their shots in tonight.
Michael Redd vs. Randy Foye
It’ll be either Foye or Young getting the start against the Bucks and I wouldn’t expect them to do the damage Young did last game against Milwaukee. I was borderline haterish when discussing Young’s game in my last Wizards preview and he proceeded to drop 21. But that was against Charlie Bell, who may be a competent defender, but can’t hang with larger guards. He’s proved that time and time again (Kobe). And while Redd has a reputation as an awful defender, he can at least match the size of Young, if not the speed. It’s funny how having three more inches of arm and size in your face can affect those shots you’re getting. Foye is quicker and a better ball-handler, and gets to the line as much as Young, so either way they will pose some sort of problem, if not as significant as one as Young did last game. Redd’s offense is still a work in progress, but he has to come around one of these days, right? Right?!
Carlos Delfino vs. Caron Butler
I can’t see any way Delfino holds this spot through the end of December. In fact, isn’t this a good game for LRMAM to hop back into the starting line-up? He’s the Bucks best defender, Butler is Washington’s most efficient offensive player over the last few years. It makes sense, but it probably won’t happen. Delfino has had more bad moments than good ones in his last five games, hitting just four of his last 15 three’s in that time frame. If he’s not hitting three’s, what is he doing? He’s an adequate defender, but there is someone who can do that better than him on the bench. Butler continues to have a down year, but I think it has more to do with the people around him than Butler himself. His usage rate is at 21.9, down four points from last year and the lowest number since he’s been a Wizard. Only so much Butler can do if he’s not getting the ball. And how is that possible when he’s on a 9-17 team?
Ersan Ilyasova vs. Antawn Jamison
“Turkish Thunder” didn’t have his usual decent offensive showing against Indiana, but that wasn’t really basketball. It was more intramural/JV rubbish than NBA basketball. So I’d expect him to round back into form in this one, hitting his usual array of outside shots and scraping for garbage points around the bucket. Jamison wasn’t the answer some (me) thought he’d be for Washington. They’ve fallen to 7-10 since his return and generally seem out of sync. Jamison had 15 and eight in the Bucks-Wizards last game, and Ersan was limited to 15 minutes due to foul trouble, so we didn’t really get to see much out of this match-up last game. Jamison doesn’t seem to quit on plays though, something Ersan feasts on.
Andrew Bogut vs. Brendan Haywood
We know the story here: a long, athletic, center who can stick with Bogut and challenge his hook shots. Uh-oh. But I have confidence that Good Bogut will show up in Milwaukee Wednesday night. He’s committed and a possible all-star, he’ll shake these guys eventually, right? Bogut has said in the past his bad games have nothing to do with whose been guarding him, it’s just been on him, so we’ll see if that holds up tonight. Haywood has had consecutive six rebound games after eight games with more than eight rebounds, so this may be a good time for Bogut to get the typically tough Haywood. That is, if there is ever a good time to match-up with a seven foot big man who cares about defense.
LRMAM, Hakim Warrick, Luke Ridnour, Charlie Bell, Jodie Meeks and Kurt Thomas
Nick Young, Earl Boykins, Andray Blatche, Javale McGee and Dominic McGuire
You remember Boykins, the guy who won the game for Washington in early December. Boykins got Jennings to jump on a pump-fake and leaned in for the foul. I’d say this was a great play by Boykins, but EVERYONE gets Jennings to jump on pump-fakes. It’s easier to get Jennings to bite on a fake than it is for the Bucks to make a free throw. Blatche had a good game in the first meeting, but is inconsistent and cannot be trusted. Speaking of those who cannot be trusted, where has Warrick been? I feel like I haven’t even mentioned him in a month. The dropoff from his pre-season to regular season has been astonishing.
Prediction: Bucks 101 – Wizards 93
The Bucks may have played poorly in the game against Indiana, but I think that had more to do with their habit of playing down to the competition rather than the Bucks being THAT bad. The Wizards will likely allow for a prettier game and should rub off on the Bucks. Why Washington is so bad, I don’t know, but I haven’t seen any signs that they’ll figure things out any time soon and play with cohesion. At the very least, the Bucks are capable of that on most nights.