Expect some birthday smiles tonight from Giannis Antetokounmpo. The rookie teenager celebrates his 19th birthday today. “The first month (the transition to the U.S.) was very hard for me, because I was 18. Now I’m 19, I’m a big man now!” Giannis said with a chuckle.
The Greek Freak was quite effusive on his big day, sharing thoughts on food, growing taller, and playing against super-duper-stars like Kevin Durant and LeBron James.
On his new favorite foods since arriving in Milwaukee: “Everything. I eat meatballs. I’d never eaten meatballs before. A lot of burgers, shrimps, a lot of shrimps. I’d never tasted shrimps before.”
On playing against superstars: “It was very nice that I played against them. I never dreamed I would play against them. I’m still waiting for next year to play against them again… to try to beat them this time.”
And on growing an inch and a quarter taller since NBA draft: “I hope I don’t grow more. 6’10” is nice.”
What to Watch For: Bucks
A very thin bench. The Bucks were already having a hard time wrangling rebounds, and now they’ll have to do it with an interior rotation of John Henson, Ersan Ilyasova, Miroslav Raduljica and Khris Middleton. Zaza Pachulia and Ekpe Udoh won’t play tonight. To make matters worse, Marcin Gortat made 11 of 12 field goal attempts in his last game against the Bucks, including a perfect 7-for-7 in the paint. It will likely be the slender Henson’s job to keep the well-chiseled Gortat away from the rim
What to Watch For: Wizards
Rookie Otto Porter may make his NBA debut tonight. His return from a hip injury is a game-time decision. If he does, he may well find himself paired against fellow rookie Antetokounmpo.
Time – 6:00 PM Central
TV – FS-Wisconsin
Radio – 620 WTMJ
Bucks: Zaza Pachulia (sore fight foot; out), Caron Butler (sore right knee; out), Ekpe Udoh (right ankle sprain; out), Larry Sanders (thumb; out), Carlos Delfino (foot surgery; out)
Wizards: Bradley Beal (right fibula stress injury; out), Otto Porter (right hip flexor; questionable), Al Harrington (right knee; out)
PG Brandon Knight
SG O.J. Mayo
SF Khris Middleton
PF Ersan Ilyasova
C John Henson
PG John Wall
SG Trevor Ariza
SF Martell Webster
C Marcin Gortat
Jeremy’s For Recreational Purposes Only Prediction (aka Betsketball)
Line: Wizards -10
The last time these titans of hoop played the two teams combined for 41 turnovers in a bit of a slop fest. When the Bucks weren’t handing the ball over to the Wizards, Milwaukee couldn’t stop Marcin Gortat. The talented, but not really that great Gortat scored 25 points and was 11-12 from the field. The Wizards shot 50%!
And this game still needed overtime to get past 191. I got lucky that night, as the extra period gave the teams the time needed to hit the over. I won’t be so brash as to expect good fortune again. I’ll take the Wizards -10 and the under.
(Quick note: I did not do the prediction you see later in this preview, that explains any inconsistency there.)
Record: 12-6 (5-4 ATS and 7-2 over/under)
Choose the Form of the Destructor: Nene
Nene is a terrific player whose primary limitation throughout his career has been the injury bug. He has stayed healthy so far this season, and he’ll be playing with three full days since the Wizards’ last game. If Ersan Ilyasova struggles to guard him, the Bucks’ next option is likely Khris Middleton, who would be giving up 3 inches and over 30 pounds to the 6’11”, 250 lb. Brazilian power forward.