When: Saturday, December 10th at 7 p.m. ET
Where: Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.
TV: CSN Mid-Atlantic
Radio: 1500 AM and Wizards Radio App
Wizards: Ian Mahinmi (Questionable, Knee)
What to watch for
Can the Wizards contain the Bucks’ dynamic duo?
When it comes to stopping the Milwaukee Bucks, most of the work lies in slowing down two players: Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
They are currently the only two players averaging double-digit points for Milwaukee (22 for Antetokounmpo and 19.2 for Parker), and they carry an otherwise punchless offense that is really missing Khris Middleton, who is out for the season.
While I did refer to them as a “dynamic duo,” one of the two has really separated himself as a budding superstar the first month of the season:
Antetokounmpo is a triple-double waiting to happen every time he steps on the floor. How well the Wizards defend him, and Parker to a lesser extent, will go a long way towards determining whether or not they get a win on Saturday night.
The battle of the benches
The Wizards’ bench is awful. This is not news at this point, and, despite Washington’s win against the Nuggets, the second unit once again disappointed putting up just 23 points (albeit Kelly Oubre was the only reserve to log more than 12 minutes). I have pretty much given up hope on the Wizards’ reserves stepping up offensively, but they did show increased defensive effort in their win against Denver on Thursday.
The Nuggets are currently second in the NBA in bench scoring (43.5 points per game) and their reserves are shooting a respectable 44 percent from the floor. Washington held the Denver second unit to just 31 points on 30 percent shooting in their eventual victory.
While it is just one game, it was nice to see a little more defensive intensity out of the reserves after the Wizards gave up more than 70 points to the Orlando bench last Tuesday. Milwaukee doesn’t have any one second unit player that is consistently dominating, but they are getting almost 40 points per game from their reserves including four players averaging more than 7 points per contest. The Wizards’ bench will need to once again bring energy on defense to prevent an Orlando-style thrashing by the Bucks.
Can Markieff Morris finally step up?
Morris is averaging more than 12 points and 5 rebounds per game, which may not sound that bad from a starting power forward, but Markieff Morris has really struggled so far this season.
Morris is averaging just over 14 points per 36 minutes - the lowest mark since his second year in the NBA - and is barely shooting over 40 percent from the field. He looks completely disengaged offensively at times, and this is starting to become a major concern considering he is third on the team in field goal attempts.
While it is alarming that his shot isn’t falling, it is even more imperative that Morris improve on defense. Late last season the Wizards stifled opposing offenses with him in the lineup. He had the size to stay with bigger post players, and the agility to guard quicker four-men on the perimeter. So far this season, he has struggled against both kinds of big men.
The aforementioned Jabari Parker is one of the most explosive power forwards in the NBA. If Morris isn’t engaged on defense against the Bucks, Parker could have a huge night.
Most Likely Wizard Killer: Greg Monroe
Monroe is averaging 17.5 points and 13 rebounds per 36 minutes off the bench for the Bucks. Washington does not have any big men who can stop him - even if Mahinmi plays he will obviously not be 100 percent - and I am honestly terrified to see what he will do to the likes of Andrew Nicholson and Jason Smith.
The former Georgetown Hoya is plenty familiar with the Verizon Center, and he could have a huge night against a Wizards frontline that allowed Nikola Jokic to put up 17 points and 11 boards in 27 minutes off the bench on Thursday.