Preview: Washington Wizards (1-0) at Milwaukee Bucks (0-1)
Time: Friday 7:00 P.M. CST
Venue: BMO Harris Bradley Center
Where To Watch: TV – FS Wisconsin, Radio – AM-620
Adam Silver has freed Giannis Antetokounmpo, as he makes his season debut against John Wall and the Washington Wizards. Milwaukee fans are hoping to witness the Bucks first victory of the season after getting blown out by the New York Knicks in the season opener Wednesday.
Probable Wizards Starters
G John Wall, 6-4, Kentucky
G Bradley Beal, 6-5, Florida
F Otto Porter Jr., 6-8, Georgetown
F Kris Humphries, 6-9, Minnesota
C Marcin Gortat, 6-11, Poland
What We Need To Know About The Wizards:
After going 46-36 and losing to Atlanta in six games in the Eastern Conference Semifinals last season, the Wizards look to utilize third year player small forward Otto Porter Jr. who is replacing veteran Paul Pierce who signed with the Clippers during the offseason. They have acquired some shooters for their bench signing former Bucks Jared Dudley and Gary Neal and drafting forward Kelly Oubre Jr. from Kansas. They didn’t need their reserves in their season opener against Orlando as Wall and Beal combined for 46 points while Gortat and Humphries combined for another 21 to secure the one point victory.
Probable Bucks Starters
G Michael Carter-Williams, 6-6, Syracuse
G Khris Middleton, 6-8, Texas A&M
F Giannis Antetokounmpo, 6-11, Greece
F Johnny O’ Bryant III, 6-9, LSU
C Greg Monroe, 6-11, Georgetown
What We Need To Know About The Bucks:
Despite all the hype from last season and the acquisitions during the offseason, the Bucks didn’t seem to match it in their 97-122 blowout loss to the New York Knicks. A hope Bucks fans can cling to is the absence of Giannis Antetokounmpo from a one game suspension and OJ Mayo who is suffering a day to day hamstring injury. In the loss it has become apparent that both Antetokounmpo and Mayo are leaders to their respective squads; Giannis supplying energy and direction for the starters and OJ supplying shooting off the bench, as both squads Wednesday didn’t seem to have either. A seeming certainty for the Bucks is that Greg Monroe immediately made an impact in his team debut leading in scoring with 22 points and rebounding with 14 boards with seven of those being offensive.
The matchup to look for is with the big men at the center and forward positions. Both Gortat and Monroe are monsters defensively but the Wizards’ scoring revolves around their star guards Wall and Beal, which limits Gortat’s opportunity to score in the paint. This can be an advantage for Monroe as he has established himself as the Bucks leading scorer with his ability to control the basket. The other matchup is Antetokounmpo and potentially Middleton against the lack of star power in the Wizards’ forwards, Porter Jr. and Humphries. The Bucks will need to exploit these matchups offensively and defensively if they want the victory.
Bucks Keys To Victory:
The most important thing the Bucks will need to beat the Wizards is Michael Carter-Williams’ defense on John Wall, who much like Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks is almost guaranteed to have a high scoring game. If Carter-Williams can disrupt Wall then he’ll have to look for other options such as his forwards and center, which mentioned above could be a matchup advantage for the Bucks. Another key to victory will be the Bucks bench which was one of the reasons for their record during the first half of last season. John Henson and rookie Rashad Vaughn were rarely seen on the court against the Knicks and that was a huge reason the bench was almost invisible Wednesday. With the acquisitions of Dudley, Neal, Oubre Jr. along with veteran big men Nene and Dejuan Blair the Wizards will look to maintain their perimeter shooting and energy when Wall, Beal, Gortat and Humphries need to rest.
The Bucks do have a realistic chance to get a statement win against a talented playoff team. Can they live up to the offseason hype that has made NBA analysts such as Charles Barkley believe this team can make noise in the Eastern Conference? This game and how the Bucks play in it can definitely answer that question in ways that they couldn’t Wednesday against the Knicks. If Giannis can wreak havoc and lead on both ends of the court, while MCW contains Wall and the overall shooting is more efficient than last game; the Bucks could very well be 1-1 and begin to live up to this season’s considerable hype.