Do you want the good news or the bad news first? Okay, let's go with the bad, so the good lifts us up.
Bad: The Wizards nearly blew up a 35-point lead last night against the Miami Heat.
Good: They ended up winning.
Washington, however, still remains 2-7 in their last nine games, heading into Wisconsin tonight to play the Milwaukee Bucks - a team that despite being a four-game losing streak is just two-and-a-half games behind the faltering Wizards for the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference.
When and where? Tip-off is at 8:30 p.m. EST from the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisc. Catch the game on CSN Washington or join the #radioparty on 99.1 FM.
Who's out? Kris Humphries missed his fourth consecutive game with a strained left groin Friday; he's still listed as out for the Wizards. Bradley Beal is also down as day to day, as he may get rested for tonight's game. O.J. Mayo is out for the Bucks and Jared Dudley is day to day.
Are they good? At 32-29, I would say they are part of the average pack of teams in the Eastern Conference. Despite being on a four game losing streak and losing six of their last 10 games, they are right behind the Wizards for the fifth spot. At home, the Bucks have won eight of their last nine games and probably look to regain some of the magic there tonight. Michael Carter-Williams is pushing to become a point guard threat after replacing Brandon Knight, who led the Bucks in scoring in two (losing) games against Washington.
Washington Woes? Last night's game against Miami was a doozy for the Wizards, who jumped out to a 35-point lead with under seven minutes remaining in the third quarter, only to be outscored 49-15 the rest of the way and escape with a narrow 99-97 victory. First half: Yay. Second half: Boo. Still clinging to that fifth spot in the Eastern Conference, tonight's game is a chance for them to REALLY GET BACK ON TRACK ALREADY and take down a team threatening them from the bottom of the conference. The Wizards are also 13-17 on the road, so this victory can also be a moral one as they get set for the postseason.
Turnovers? Turnovers. The Bucks turnover the ball 16.8 times per game - one of the worst teams in the league at taking care of the ball. In the team's first matchup against the Wizards, they coughed up the ball 28 times. 28! If the Wizards want to build on their success from last night's first half of play in which they scored 67 points - the most they've scored in a half all season - they are going to need to capitalize on the Bucks' sloppy ball handling skills. I mean, we say "Optimus Dime" about John Wall for a reason.
Who wins? Well, after barely squeaking it out against Miami's JV team last night, anything is really possible in #SoWizards world these days. Like I've continued to harp on, this team ebbs and flows with John Wall, who killed his three-game streak of 20 or more points last night, finishing with a sad six points. He needs to drop some buckets tonight to get this team back on track; he knows it, you can tell from his postgame quotes. Also important is Marcin Gortat's play, who has had 10 or more rebounds in his last seven games. He finished with 14 points, 17 rebounds and two blocks in last night's game and we'll ignore the fact that he sat out most of the fourth quarter because the Heat played small ball. Anyway, getting both he and Nene going early will be so, so important for the Wizards. WALL, that's on you. Also, where's Paul Pierce these days?