The Bucks face the Wizards on Wednesday night following two thrilling victories over the Nets on Sunday and Tuesday. Milwaukee will look to gain ground in the standings in the push for the top seed in the Eastern Conference, while Washington will look to keep their spot in the play-in tournament. Let’s take a look at the stars to watch and the keys to victory in Wednesday’s game!
Bucks vs. Wizards Game Details
Location: Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Time: 7 PM CST
Where to Watch: Bally Sports Wisconsin
Bucks – Jeff Teague (Abdominal Strain) day-to-day
Wizards – Thomas Bryant (Knee) OUT, Deni Avdija (ankle) OUT
Stars to Watch
Giannis Antetokounmpo: Coming off of back-to-back dominant performances against Brooklyn, Giannis will look to have another big game against Washington. The first two games against the Wizards this season, Washington had no answer for Giannis. He simply had his way, with two 30 point triple-doubles in the first two matchups. Giannis should have an easy time getting into the paint against a Wizards frontcourt that lacks athleticism and should be able to have his way against Washington once again. Keep on the lookout for another big game for the 2-time reigning MVP.
Khris Middleton: Middleton did exactly what the Bucks needed a second option to do in the last two games vs. Brooklyn, scoring 49 points combined in the two games. Last season, Khris had the biggest game of his career vs. the Wizards, scoring a career high 50 points in a game where Antetokounmpo was out. If Washington is able to successfully wall off Giannis on drives to the paint, look for Middleton to be open to bury open looks from the outside.
Russell Westbrook: Russell Westbrook is coming off of one of the most historic games in NBA History. On Monday night against the Pacers, Westbrook put up an unbelievable stat line of 14 points, 21 rebounds, and 24 assists. In the previous 2 games against the Bucks this season, Westbrook has had incredible splits of 32.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 14.5 assists per game. Westbrook can always be counted on to put up great numbers in the box score, but will it translate to a victory?
Bradley Beal: Beal is one of the perennial leading scorers in the NBA. While Beal may be having his least efficient shooting season of his career from 3 at 34.5%, that number can be misleading with Beal shooting the 3 at a 42.9% clip over his last 10 games. Beal only played in one of the two games vs. the Bucks this season, a game in which he showcased his skillset, going off for 37 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists on 13-19 from the field and 4-7 from 3. Expect Beal to be a big contributor for Washington on offense on Wednesday.
Keys to Victory
Contain Bradley Beal: It may be nearly impossible for the Bucks to completely shut down Bradley Beal, but they will need to limit his production as much as possible to come away with the victory. The Bucks let Beal have his way the last time he matched up against Milwaukee and it almost led to a loss for Milwaukee. Forcing Westbrook to make the big shots will put the Bucks in a lot better of a situation due to his limited shooting abilities from the outside. If Coach Budenholzer focuses his defense on slowing down Beal and making the Wizards defer to their other scoring options, the Bucks should have a good chance to win this game.
Don’t Get Into a Shootout: The Wizards do not have a good record to show for their great offense, which ranks 4th in the league in points per game. The Wizards thrive in high scoring matchups, often winning games that they’re able to control the tempo in. The Bucks should look to slow down the offense and not let the Wizards play the high paced game that they want. If the Bucks are able to slow down the tempo, they may make Washington uncomfortable.
This may not appear to be a big game, but it has significant playoff meaning. The Bucks could look to close in on the second or possibly even the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Washington is fighting to keep their spot in the newly added play-in tournament. This game may not be marked on everyone’s calendars, but this game has big playoff implications for both teams. Wednesday’s game should be an entertaining matchup up of stars between Giannis and Beal.
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