The Wizards and Bucks aren't all that different. They both came into this season with expectations to build on last year's success, led by dynamic players on the wings, and point guards who get mocked for less than stellar jump shots. Most importantly, they both come into tonight's game with as many wins as losses. Tuesday's winner will leave with a winning record, the loser will sink back below the .500 mark.
While it would be silly for either team to panic if they lose and slip under .500, it's just easier to avoid the drama altogether, so tonight's an important game for both teams, if for no other reason than to avoid annoyances.
When: November 17 @ 7 PM EST.
Where: Verizon Center
TV: CSN Mid-Atlantic locally, NBA TV nationally
Radio: 99.1 WNEW in the Washington area
Alan Anderson and Martell Webster remain out while Bradley Beal is questionable with the shoulder injury that kept him out of the past two games.
UPDATE: It's looking like Beal will miss his third straight game.
Jabari Parker is out with a foot sprain he suffered over the weekend for the Bucks. O.J. Mayo is also questionable with a hamstring injury.
What to watch for
Which center plays better? - In the first meeting Wizards-Bucks game this season, the Wizards went with Nene to close out the game, as his playmaking and defensive mobility proved to be one of the keys to the Wizards’ comeback.
With the way Marcin Gortat has struggled this season and the way Nene played against the Bucks the first time around and how he performed against the Magic on Saturday night, you have to wonder if perhaps the Wizards try to go with a little more Nene tonight to take advantage of mismatches against the Bucks frontcourt. At the same time, if Marcin Gortat goes out and gets to a hot start, the Wizards will be hard pressed to go away from someone finally hitting their stride.
Which forward from the 2013 draft class shows up? Going into the 2013 NBA Draft, Otto Porter was the player with all the accolades, while Giannis Antetokounmpo was a relative unknown out of Greece.
Since then, the roles have changed. Antetokounmpo exploded on the scene his rookie year with the Bucks, while Porter struggled to be a mainstay in the Wizards’ rotation until the tail end of last season. Slowly, Porter is starting to make a case for why he deserves to be in the case for the better players from that draft class, but the first meeting this season showed why Porter still has a ways to go to catch the player who was taken 12 spots after him in the draft. The Bucks’ forward went for 27 points and 9 rebounds while Porter only scored six points, committed three turnovers, and was benched for the entire fourth quarter as the Wizards made their run without him.
Who can reclaim their defensive identity? - Last season, the Wizards and the Bucks finished in the top-five in defensive efficiency. In the early going this season, both teams are in the bottom-third of the league. Both teams can point to changes they made to improve their offense as to why their defense has slipped.
The Wizards went smaller over the summer to adapt to the rest of the NBA, but they've struggled to figure out how to stop the scheme they're still trying to learn. The Bucks, on the other hand, sacrificed a lot of the personnel that helped them craft their identity. They had to say goodbye to players like Zaza Pachulia and Jared Dudley to pursue Greg Monroe in free agency.
If either team has a shot at living up to their preseason potential, they need to figure out how to recapture some of their old defensive identity with their new additions.