Both games the Bucks have played since the All-Star break have gone to overtime. The first of them resulted in an impressive win in Toronto, while on Sunday they went down by two points to the Jrue Holiday-inspired Pelicans. Each game is increasingly important for Milwaukee, who are sandwiched in sixth place in the east with a 33-26 record. Just two games below them are the Heat in eighth place, while Cleveland are two games ahead in third.
On Tuesday, they will face another side stuck in this group of sides between third and eighth in the east. The Wizards are in fourth, boasting a 35-25 record, and are coming off an impressive 109-94 victory against the 76ers. Bradley Beal and Tomas Satoransky continued to show their development as a backcourt duo in the win, contributing eight and ten assists respectively. Otto Porter Jr also chipped in with 23 points on 10-for-16 shooting.
Three keys to the game
Giannis’ minutes - Giannis Antetokounmpo is a freak athlete, and there’s every chance extra minutes don’t affect him, but he is coming off consecutive games where he has logged at least 40 minutes, and has played 85 minutes in total across the two games. He didn’t get an extended break over the All-Star period like many of his opponents as he was playing in the game, and this will be his third game in four days. The Greek Freak would be excused for feeling a little fatigued in this game.
The Wizards’ backcourt - There’s no doubt the Wizards will be eager to get John Wall back, but in the meantime Satoransky is doing a good job in his absence, and Beal has also picked up his facilitatory play. In their past ten games, they are combining for 12.7 assists a night - 6.7 for Beal and 6.0 for Satoransky - and are proving to be a handful for opponents on the offensive end of the floor.
Can Milwaukee capitalize on the Wizards’ weakness on the defensive glass? - Neither of these sides are good at rebounding, but Washington in particular have shown a propensity to concede a lot of points as a result of this flaw. They concede the most second-chance points in the league at 13.8 per game. The Bucks, however, don’t tend to score a whole lot in this way - their 10.4 second-chance points a game is ahead of only Dallas. If they make a concerted effort to punish Washington’s vulnerability on the glass, they may find a lot of free points.
Matchup to watch
Otto Porter Jr vs Khris Middleton - Both these small forwards are capable of getting on extended shooting streaks, and can be damaging to opponents. Porter Jr is averaging 18.3 in his past ten games, and is shooting 53.2% from the floor in this time. In his most recent games, he needed just 16 looks to clock up 23 points, all of which were from the field.
Middleton hasn’t been in his best shooting touch of late, but is averaging 20.1 points per game for the season, and has shown his capabilities with numerous 40 point games during the year. Both are good defenders, with Porter able to lock down his opponent and Middleton capable of defending almost every position on the floor with his long arms and fleet footwork.
Milwaukee Bucks predicted starting lineup
PG - Eric Bledsoe | SG - Tony Snell | SF - Khris Middleton | PF - Giannis Antetokounmpo | C - John Henson
Washington Wizards predicted starting lineup
PG - Tomas Satoransky | SG - Bradley Beal | SF - Otto Porter Jr | PF - Markieff Morris | C - Marcin Gortat
Antetokounmpo has been an absolute menace in the three games between these two sides this season, and has helped lead his Bucks to a 2-1 series lead over the Wizards. In these games, the Greek Freak has averaged 28.0 points, 13.3 rebounds, 5.7 assists, and a couple of blocks. In the most recent matchup between the sides, he was dominant, contributing 27 points and a huge 20 rebounds to go with six assists and two blocks.
Bradley Beal’s assist over/under has been set at just 5.5 points, which is far too low. He has surpassed this total in all of his past six games, and has averaged 7.5 dimes in this time - well above this line. He has been taking on a much greater responsibility in terms of facilitating since Wall went down, so take him to go over this line.
This game will go down to the wire, but the Bucks should just be able to creep over the line. Both sides have plenty to play for, so expect a playoff-style intensity, with the cream of both sides rising to the top. Beal will have 25 points and seven assists, and be the most important player on the floor for the Wizards, but Antetokounmpo has taken a liking to Washington this season, and will get Milwaukee over the line. They’ll run out victors on their home floor 107-103.
The game will be broadcast locally on Fox Sports Wisconsin and NBCSWA. Tip-off is at 8pm ET.